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They're baaaack! Actually, they never left. They, of course, are tax scammers, who the Internal Revenue Service says have tweaked an old scheme using a form used by international taxpayers and non-resident aliens in their latest effort to steal taxpayer identities and cash. As is the case in many tax scams, the form used in this latest identity theft iteration, the W-8BEN, is real. That's an excerpt of the real IRS document, which is titled Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding, below. You can click on it to see the full form at IRS.gov.... Read more →


High tax season ended on April 18. High tax scam season never ends. The Internal Revenue Service today warned of a twist on an old phone scam. Criminals now are using telephone numbers that mimic IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) to trick taxpayers into paying non-existent tax bills. It's not the first time this has happened. Back in 2015, the IRS warned of a telephone tax scam that employed spoofing, which is, in the criminal vernacular, the faking of a phone number that shows up on Caller ID. Tax identity thieves also have used smishing, the text messaging cousin of... Read more →


When we pay a tax pro for help, we trust that person. Sometimes we shouldn't. Most of use tax professionals to help get through tax season. Thankfully, most paid tax preparers are honest. They want to help their clients meet their tax responsibilities by legally paying the least amount of tax possible under the Internal Revenue Code. But most is not all. Some tax preparers run fly-by-night operations where they simply look to make a quick buck off of honest individuals seeking tax assistance. These pros, and I use the description advisedly, often get paid based on a percentage of... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post to cover them. Three posts, to be precise. This is Part 3 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. Your promised tax savings can be quickly washed away if you put your money into an abusive offshore tax shelter. This is it, a look at the final group of scams that crooks are using again this tax year to try to take our money. The final four schemes in this post, numbers 9 through 12, are like those in... Read more →


There are so many tax scams out there that it takes more than one post. Three, to be precise. This is Part 2 of the Internal Revenue Service's 2018 list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. The four schemes in this post, numbers 5 through 8, are like those in the initial 2018 Dirty Dozen tax scams of 2018. They also are repeat (dis)honorees. That's because once crooks find something that works, they keep using it. And sadly, there are enough new victims out there every year to fall for it. Unless potential targets are warned. To do that and... Read more →


Those fake emails looking to steal your tax and personal data top the annual IRS scam list, but 11 other crooked tricks also made it, including fake IRS agents, sham charities and frivolous tax arguments (which are the only time anyone associates taxes with frivolity!). Highlights of each of the Dirty Dozen scams will be added as the IRS releases them, one a day over 12 business days, so keep checking back. Phishing once again makes the Internal Revenue Service's annual list of Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. When it comes to tax scams, the late and loquacious MLB Hall-of-Famer Yogi... Read more →


Your tax refund showed up in your bank account! Party time, right? Wrong. It's possible that the money isn't really connected to your filing. It could be part of a new tax scam that's appeared this filing season. And crooks are using even more chicanery to get the money that's in your account, from posing (once again) as Internal Revenue Service agents to pretending to be debt collectors (you knew this would eventually happen). But before this latest effort to steal your tax refund got to this point, it started with stealing your tax identity. Here's the tax tale in... Read more →


Dealing with taxes is tough enough, but when folks get the wrong information, things can go really bad really fast. That happens every filing season. Someone's uncle who works down the hall from a tax attorney says this. A neighbor's accountant brother says that. And, of course, there's the internet, probably the greatest single source of, to borrow a phrase, fake tax news. The 2018 filing season is in full swing; it officially opened on Jan. 29, with Free File taking submissions since Jan. 12. Most of the folks who've already filed did so because they're expecting refunds. With those... Read more →


Some folks are taking seriously the traditional tax advice to start annual tax filing tasks early. Unfortunately, those folks are crooks. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners in state tax agencies and the tax industry have announced that they're seeing early signs that cyber criminals already are working to infiltrate the tax process. Tax practitioners are the prime targets as the 2018 filing season's opening on Jan. 29 nears. Fraudsters are sending a new round of emails in which they pose as potential clients or even the IRS to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information, according... Read more →


We did it! We made it through the wild ride that was 2017. It ended in a particularly chaotic fashion, with a major tax bill that was literally written on the fly even on its last day of Congressional consideration. via Giphy.com Studios Now it's time to hunker down for what 2018 has to throw at us on the tax front. However, before we dive head-first into the new year, I'm taking one of the 365 days, just like I did at the start of 2017, to list my top 10 tax stories from the previous year. These are not... Read more →


Federal law enforcement scored a major victory this year against an India-based ring of tax crooks who pretended to be Internal Revenue Service agents in phone calls to U.S. taxpayers. The last of 24 U.S.-based member of the international tax scam pleaded guilty on Nov. 13. That brought to a successful end the multi-agency effort that helped bring down the IRS impersonation scam that since it began in 2013 has stolen $61.6 million from duped victims. But, warned the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, these crooked callers are not done. "This is the largest, most comprehensive investigation that TIGTA... Read more →


The advice in this post is good year-round, so I've changed the headline and it's the Daily Tax Tip for Monday, March 5, 2018. Be safe out there taxpayers and keep an eye out for the latest Dirty Dozen tax scams! Today is Cyber Monday, the first post-Thanksgiving weekday when millions of shoppers go online seeking holiday bargains. It's also the start of National Tax Security Awareness Week. For the next five days, the Internal Revenue Service will focus on ways to protect tax and financial data during this hectic holiday season. Each day this week, the IRS and its... Read more →


Nothing says Merry Christmas like the disembodied Santa head lights (click for a closer, clearer view) that brighten our fireplace hearth each holiday season. (Please ignore my reflected selfie!) And yes, this and other Christmas decorations are already, before Thanksgiving, up at our house! Ho, Ho, Ho! I know we've yet to celebrate Thanksgiving, but I can tell that Christmas is near, too. How? Well, in addition to having already decorated our house (interior only so far for us, but ho-ho-holiday lights are already on some of our neighbors' houses) for Santa's annual arrival, I'm getting the usual year-end flood... Read more →


If Halloween isn't scary enough for you, this October also has a Friday the 13th, which if you haven't looked at a calendar yet, is today. It's a terrible day if you're superstitious or suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia. And making things even more frightening, the Internal Revenue Service has some terrifying news about tax scams. This week alone, the IRS has issued two warnings about tax-related identity theft schemes. First was the phishing attempt to hook tax pros by using the agency's e-Services as bait. Now there's a fake insurance tax form scam that's being used to access annuity and life... Read more →


Tax identity thieves apparently are paying close attention to official security moves that the Internal Revenue Service is making and using that information to create new schemes. The latest effort by crooks to steal taxpayer personal data comes in the form of a new phishing scam designed to steal tax professionals' passwords and data. e-Services is hook for latest ID theft effort: In an email alert sent this (Oct. 11) afternoon to tax pros, the IRS warned that this latest scheme tries to trick them into signing a new e-Services user agreement. The phishing email claims to be from "e-Services... Read more →


Oh, Photoshop. What would the internet be without you? Sometimes, doctored images are welcome innocent examples of good humor. Other times they are cruel and divisive. And the astounding photos tend to skyrocket during times of tragedy and disaster. Take, for example, the photo below of what @Jeggit's Tweet says is a shark swimming in a Houston street flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Jeggit gives us the option to believe it or not. Go with not. It's fake. Mashable has the details on the original shark photo, which over the years has been seen in edited online images swimming through flooded... Read more →


I didn't win the $759 million Powerball lottery, but I just got word that I'm the recipient of the next best thing, $22.5 million from the federal government. I know this because Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen emailed me the good news. Here's what the commish's notification said: from:Mr John Koskinen "www."@clock.ocn.ne.jp reply-to:Mr John Koskinen date:Thu, Aug 24, 2017 at 7:42 PM subject:FROM IRS COMMISSIONER MR. JOHN KOSKINEN FROM IRS COMMISSIONER MR. JOHN KOSKINEN U.S.A IRS Address:1111 Constitution Ave., NW; Washington, DC 20224 Greetings From The Internal Revenue Service United States of America. Your total funds worth $22.5... Read more →


Every computer user is familiar with the constant updates to software. So are identity thieves. And now these crooks are targeting tax professionals in a new phishing scam designed to steal usernames and passwords. The Internal Revenue Service and its state and tax industry Security Summit partners say that this latest impersonation scheme variant is a sophisticated scam designed to get information that can be used to file false tax returns and collect fraudulent tax refunds. It's the latest in a series of scams this summer that have targeted professional tax preparers. Software upgrade hook: This is the time of... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has expanded its digital options, offering email notification for some e-paying taxpayers and web video conferencing for appealing tax disputes. You have IRS email: Yes, this time that email really could be from the IRS. But only in certain circumstances. The IRS announced its new email notification for folks who pay via Direct Pay and Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) in, what else, an email. The July 21 electronic message to tax professionals let them know that their clients who use those two payment options can sign up to get notifications about those payments in... Read more →


Feeling left out because tax scammers have been focusing lately on tax preparers? Don't. Crooks likely will be calling or sending you an email soon enough. The Internal Revenue Service says that everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros alike, are potential victims of identity theft schemes as we head into what used to be a slower time for taxes. "We continue to urge people to watch out for new and evolving schemes this summer," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in an alert issued today, June 26. "Many of these are variations of a theme, involving fictitious tax bills and demands... Read more →