(RightWing.org) – When the calendar flipped to March 20, 2023, the northern hemisphere of the planet officially entered the spring season. That means that in just a few short weeks, on April 18, the United States will find itself at the end of another season… the tax one. In honor of the demise of winter, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began releasing its annual list of scams that people need to be aware of.
The Dirty Dozen
While one might have to enter into a type of battle to protect oneself from unscrupulous actors, this list has nothing to do with the 1967 World War II blockbuster starring Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson. For their first warning of the year, the IRS highlighted the media blitz being put on via radio and the internet that are “blatant attempts” by promoters to con ineligible people into claiming the Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
The ERC is a legitimate program that allows eligible businesses that continued to pay worker wages during the pandemic for certain periods during 2020-2021 to claim a credit of up to $26,000/employee. The scammers will advertise the true amount of the benefit but then prey on people’s understandable lack of knowledge as to how the IRS defines “eligible.”
Business owners, especially those who go it alone at tax time without the help of an accountant, will be promised “help” in determining if they qualify for an ERC and/or filling out the paperwork for them. This gives them the bait to dangle to set their hook into what they really want, which is personal information such as Social Security numbers and bank account data.
The second installment of the 2023 Dirty Dozen warnings came out on March 21, and it covers hoaxes as old as the internet and smartphones, fake emails, and texts. These messages (known as phishing or smishing, respectively) will appear to come from the IRS or various state agencies.
Some of them will promise a carrot in the form of a lower tax bill or a bigger refund; others will have a stick threatening that a person will end up in court, facing either a civil lawsuit or criminal charges. Once again, these criminals are banking on the fact that a certain percentage of their victims will hand over the information needed to steal their identities or drain their bank accounts. The IRS contacts taxpayers via letters sent through the mail, not texts or emails.
The IRS makes the point of reminding all of us that each taxpayer, whether a business or an individual, is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of what goes on their tax forms, regardless of whether they were bamboozled or not. As tax season continues to unfold, the most dreaded of all government agencies will put out more warnings about potential scams.
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