A Finance pro comes to you saying they received a text message from IRS about an audit – or worse, that an IRS rep is at your door wanting to inspect your confidential files.
How can you tell whether these requests are legit? IRS recently released guidance to help.
How agency reaches out to taxpayers
Most times, IRS will send a letter in advance of any visits to your office. And you’ll typically get several letters in the mail before you’ll get a phone call from the agency. Though IRS will often make phone calls to employers sooner if there’s a missing tax return or employment tax deposit.
Be aware: The agency won’t leave voicemail messages demanding immediate payment or threatening to get law enforcement involved. All taxpayers have the right to an appeal before making payments – and IRS also won’t ask for payment via debit card or credit card.
In addition, IRS doesn’t send text messages with shortened links asking recipients to verify tax info in advance of a site visit. These links are often fraudulent. The only way IRS will communicate via text message is through its IRS Secure Access platform.
Emails from IRS requesting financial info in advance of an audit also aren’t legit. The agency will only ask for this info through a standard letter. Letters are also the primary way you’ll learn about the need for an IRS audit.
Any suspicious texts and emails your Finance pros receive should be forwarded to email@example.com.
Visits & requests for audits
IRS will usually visit a company after the agency’s made attempts at contact through the mail to discuss taxes owed or past-due returns. However, in certain circumstances, an IRS revenue officer will visit employers before the agency’s sent any letters to keep them from falling behind on their employment taxes.
The revenue officer will offer your Finance pros tax education, along with investigating the circumstances of the unpaid tax bill and discussing the company’s options for payment.
Reps may also visit your offices for a scheduled audit that’s been arranged in advance. Occasionally, the auditor will call before the visit to confirm details of the audit and discuss related items.
In either case, your Finance pros should always ask the rep for credentials or ID, just in case. Any legit auditor should be able to provide both IRS-issues credentials and a HSPD-12 card, which is a standard form of ID issued to all federal employees.
Report anyone who attempts to gain access to your office via an IRS impersonation scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration using the IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting website or by calling 800-366-4484. It’s also a good idea to contact local authorities so they’re aware of the scam.