Scams Feed

Today's post on the second half of the 2024 Internal Revenue Service's Dirty Dozen tax scams looks at a wide range of schemes and potential victims. Tax pros are targets, as are high income earners in schemes 7 through 12. Together with the Dirty Dozen's first six scams posted last week, there's a scam for almost all of us taxpayers. Take notice and don't become a Dirty Dozen victim. Last Friday, I shared the first six of the Internal Revenue Service's annual Dirty Dozen list. As promised, this post wraps up schemes, cons, and scams 7 through 12. This compilation... Read more →


While the Internal Revenue Service is in the midst of revealing its annual Dirty Dozen list another government agency also is taking tax-related action. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) Enforcement Bureau issued a cease-and-desist letter against Veriwave Telco. The letter ordered the Dover, Delaware, company to halt its origination of an apparently illegal National Tax Relief Program robocall campaign. The FCC warned the company that failure to comply with the requirements outlined in the letter could result in mandatory blocking by downstream providers of all traffic from Veriwave. In addition, the FCC's enforcement branch issued a K4 Order, notifying all... Read more →


Perennial tax schemes, some tweaked ones, and a few new scams, make the 2024 version of the IRS Dirty Dozen. And these featured today are just the first six of the 12 cons the IRS calls out in 2024. The final 7 through 12 on the annual infamy list will be posted next week. This week, as it does every week, the Department of Justice's Tax Division announced civil and criminal actions against several businesses and individuals accused of betraying taxpayer trust and cheating the Treasury Department out of tax dollars. Some of those who were part of the tax... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The smartest tax move often if hiring a good tax professional. Unfortunately, the tax community is not immune to bad actors. Every year, the Internal Revenue Service warns taxpayers to thoroughly vet the person they want to hire to handle their taxes. Every year, the IRS also issues warning about unscrupulous tax preparers who take advantage of trusting taxpayers and take their money. These alerts also are routinely part of the IRS annual Dirty Dozen scam list; dishonest tax pros is #6 on the 2023 list. (Preview: the 2024 list is on its way... Read more →


The Employee Retention Credit (ERC) helped many companies keep workers during the difficult COVID-19 pandemic days. But some ERC claims wrong, and the IRS is successfully recouping some of those incorrectly claimed and/or issued funds. The Internal Revenue Service closed out its Employee Retention Credit (ERC) Voluntary Disclosure Program (VDP) on Friday, March 22, on a high note. Going into the day, the VDP, which allowed those who got improper ERC payments to pay back most of the money, had produced more than $225 million from 500+ taxpayers. Another 800 submissions were still being processed, and even more being filed... Read more →


Ill-gotten gains used to fund a lavish lifestyle. For 10 years, a Rhode Island man ran a Ponzi scheme that ultimately left conned investors empty handed, while he used the funds to pay for his own lavish lifestyle. At the same time, Thomas Huling, 58, of West Warwick, also was ripping off the U.S. Treasury. On March 19, Huling was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for those crimes. The jail term comes 18 months after he pleaded guilty, back in September 2022, to wire fraud and tax evasion. Under the plea deal, the government agreed to the dismissal... Read more →


Are you having second thoughts about an ERC claim your company made? It so, it's time to review your records, and if you find you received an incorrect tax credit amount, let the IRS know by this Friday, March 22. (Photo by Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent) With the deadline to let the Internal Revenue Service know you got an improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) fast approaching — it's this Friday, March 22 — business owners who are concerned need to act fast. Recipients of wrong payments can apply for the IRS' ERC Voluntary Disclosure Program by that deadline. If accepted, the businesses... Read more →


Did you discover you got an improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) payment? You still have time to get out of the tax jam by applying for the ERC voluntary disclosure program. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) ERC voluntary disclosure deadline is March 22 Last December, the Internal Revenue Service announced that businesses that received improper Employee Retention Credit (ERC) amounts could let the agency know about the error. In these cases, many of which were created when companies got bad tax advice from aggressive ERC promoters, the companies would have to repay only 80 percent of the... Read more →


Herbal supplements might make you feel better, but such products typically don't qualify as medical treatments that are eligible for tax-favored treatment. (Photo by Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash) Health savings accounts, or HSAs, can offer some taxpayers triple tax savings. Holders of HSAs also have a longer window to contribute to these tax-advantaged plans. As noted in my March tax moves post, you can contribute to your HSA by Tax Day (that's April 15 this year), and have it count as money put into the account for the prior tax year. In addition to being a... Read more →


Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash The biggest recent scam story had nothing to do with taxes. It was the confession of a financial advice journalist of how she fell for an elaborate con job that ended with her putting $50,000 in cash in a box and handing it to a stranger. The crooks kicked off that scam by calling the writer, recounting enough of her personal information to get her hooked. It was all downhill from there, with an outrageous combination of purported government agencies, including a CIA impersonator. IRS security still suspect: We're all told to protect our... Read more →


Crooks know you're anxiously awaiting your tax refund. That's why this filing season they're again impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents. The latest refund scam is an email or text about your tax refund or tax refund e-statement. In both cases, warns the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the messages are efforts to steal your identity and money. As in previous incarnations, these latest fake IRS messages encourage recipients to click a link, supposedly to "check on your tax refund e-statement," or "fill out a form to get your refund." The FTC provided the image below of one of these fake IRS... Read more →


Tax laws are full of unintended consequences. That became painfully clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a variety of tax relief provisions were created to help individuals and businesses deal with the virus' economic effects. Such was the case with the Employee Retention Credit, or ERC. "The ERC provided a financial lifeline to millions of businesses and exempt organizations during the pandemic," said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in his prepared testimony for the Feb. 15 hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. "The IRS has worked hard to implement this credit, and we have processed about 3.6 million ERC... Read more →


In February 2022, the Internal Revenue Service stopped issuing several automatic tax notices. The move was prompted in large part by the massive backlog of tax filings that piled up when the agency closed offices as a precaution early in the COVID-19 pandemic. That tax notice moratorium is ending. Automated collection notices will soon show up in the mailboxes of individuals with tax debts prior to tax year 2022. Businesses, tax exempt organizations, trusts, and estates with tax debts prior to 2023, with exceptions for those with existing debt in multiple years, also are on the notice resumption list. These... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich A new tax season also brings the resurgences of tax scams. The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners earlier this month alerted tax professionals to watch out for a new round of filing season-related email schemes where cybercriminals pose as potential clients. Now FinCEN, the Treasury Department bureau that focuses on financial crimes, notably money laundering and terrorism, reports that there have been fraudulent attempts to obtain information from individuals and entities who may have to comply with new Corporate Transparency Act reporting requirements. Here's a look at these two schemes popping up as... Read more →


Only 80% of wrongly-claimed Employee Retention Credit amounts must be repaid. Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash We're all aware of the continuing medical issues from long COVID. The coronavirus' tax effects appear to be just as persistent. The Internal Revenue Service is still dealing with law changes enacted to provide pandemic relief. The Employee Retention Credit, or ERC, is one of them. This refundable business tax credit was designed for companies that continued paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic despite financial hardship. To qualify, the businesses were either fully or partially suspended due to a government order, or had... Read more →


This pup looks like he's asking it it's time to open gifts. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images) Next Monday morning, Dec. 25, many families will welcome a new member. I'm talking, of course, about a pet. A puppy, kitten, or other pet of any type of age can be a wonderful addition to a home. Pros and cons of pets as presents: But many animal groups and veterinarians warn against giving a pet, especially as a surprise, during the holidays. This already is a stressful time for many, and if everyone who will be involved in the... Read more →


Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash 🌟 Billions of dollars in fraud. 🌟 Victims across the globe. 🌟 🌟 Criminals who are all about personal gain. 🌟 No, that's not the opening voiceover in a trailer for a new Netflix true crime series, although I'd watch it if it were. It's from IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Jim Lee's comments on his unit's top 10 cases of 2023. Those three opening elements, said Lee, are the crux of CI's biggest busts last year. "When I say our team at CI is the best at following the money trail, I mean it,"... Read more →


More than 20,000 businesses are about to learn how serious the Internal Revenue Service is about stopping questionable Employee Retention Credit (ERC) claims. The tax agency has sent them a letter notifying them that they won't be getting the COVID-19 pandemic tax relief. Many of the claims were filed by ERC mills that have aggressively promoted the tax relief, often to businesses that did not qualify. The amount of such questionable claims prompted the IRS in September to stop processing all new claims. This first round of IRS letters to some of those who did file for the ERC is... Read more →


Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners today wrapped up the eighth annual National Tax Security Awareness Week with a warning for everyone, individual taxpayers and tax pros, to stay alert to emerging tax scams. It's a message the group issues regularly throughout the year because con artists work year-round to steal our money and, in many cases, our identities. Once they get that personal data, they can file fake tax returns to try to collect fraudulent refunds. By now, most of us are well aware of the warning signs of scams... Read more →


Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash Most taxpayers get federal tax refunds. Internal Revenue Service data complete through Oct. 27 shows that the agency received 160.5 million returns and issued nearly 105 million refunds that totaled more than $319 billion. Not surprisingly, taxpayers who are getting cash back from Uncle Sam are among the first to file every tax season. That's also a good security move. By getting their 1040 forms to the IRS early, they beat the criminals who might try to file fake returns under their names to claim their or even bigger fraudulent refunds. But some folks... Read more →