Unexpected Capabilities. Unmatched Service.
tax scams beware

5 Tax Scams to Beware Ahead of Tax Day 2023

Another year, another warning: As you prepare to file your annual returns to the IRS, keep your eyes open for tax scams.

Because they’re everywhere.

Scammers are always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of people thrown into high-stress, high-stakes situations. And what situation fits the bill more than tax time, where people are facing a deadline to send in a complicated financial report to the federal government — and in many cases, results in the return of hundreds or thousands of dollars?

The IRS is well aware of this, of course. So throughout the year, it provides guidance on tax scams that Americans need to watch out for — and how to tell if someone’s trying to fleece them.

Read on as we explore five such scams that could pick up steam as we approach Tax Day.

Text Scams

A long text pops up on your phone. It’s supposedly from the IRS, warning you that you haven’t filled out certain forms, owe back taxes or are in some other way in the agency’s crosshairs. They might even tell you their name and badge number, and let you know that you owe some sort of large fine should you not click on a link or respond to a certain phone number immediately.

They’re hoping you panic and respond without thinking. But if you ever receive a message like this, stop and take a breath.

It’s fake.

The IRS almost exclusively works via U.S. mail, especially at the onset. In fact, the IRS explicitly states that, with the exception of IRS Secure Access, it “does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds.” It won’t message you on Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts, either, so the same advice applies. Should you ever get a message like this, take a screenshot and send it to phishing@irs.gov.

By the way, the same goes for the phone: The IRS will never call you up and threaten you for nonpayment or other transgressions.


Other popular tax scams involve people impersonating the IRS via email — a tactic called phishing.

Like with text/phone scams, someone will pretend like they’re from the IRS in hopes that you’ll do something they want you to do. Usually, this will involve getting you to click on a link to a website where you give up personal and/or banking information, though sometimes, the link will install malware on your computer, allowing the scammers to hack your email or even hold your computer hostage.

The message they’ll try to trick you with varies. Yes, in some cases, they’ll try the “hard sell” of convincing you that you’re late on your filing or payment. But sometimes, it might be more subtle, like asking you to verify information or fill out a new tax form.

Again, remember: The IRS typically communicates through regular mail, not email.

Social Security Suspension Scams

Another popular scam uses taxes as a back door to threaten your most important piece of personal information.

In short, a scammer will call or text saying that they’ll suspend or cancel your Social Security number (SSN) for some reason — in many cases, claiming that you’re behind on your taxes. Other telltale signs of the scam: They ask you to make the payment out to someone other than the U.S. Treasury, they ask for unorthodox means of payment (like a prepaid debit card) and they don’t offer any option to appeal what is owed.

Again, it’s easy to panic given the importance of your SSN. But it’s also easy to ignore once you know that Social Security numbers can’t be suspended or canceled.

OIC Mills

One scam that’s more prevalent right after filing season, but that you still might come across before Tax Day, is the “OIC mill.”

Some firms brag that they can help you settle your debt with the IRS for “pennies on the dollar.” They can achieve this via a very real method called an Offer in Compromise.

But few people actually qualify for OICs. And worse? “The reality usually is that taxpayers pay the OIC mill a fee to get the same deal they could have gotten on their own by working directly with the IRS,” the IRS says.

In fact, you can actually to see whether you’re qualified, for free, at the Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier Tool.

Fraudulent Tax Preparers

One of the ways many people try to avoid tax scams is to entrust their sensitive financial documents to a professional tax preparer.

It’s a smart move — but sadly, it’s a move that some scammers still manage to take advantage of. Some try to get your attention by promising massive refunds or charging fees that vary based on the size of the refund, then aggressively (and dishonestly) claim numerous tax credits and deductions you might not be qualified to receive. Others — dubbed “ghost preparers” — are fake tax preparers, who might get your return routed to their bank account or steal your personal information.

One of the best ways to protect yourself: Make sure your preparer signs and includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).

“Not signing a return is a red flag that the paid preparer may be looking to make a quick profit,” the IRS says. “Taxpayers should avoid these unethical ‘ghost’ tax return preparers.”

The IRS also advises you to check the Better Business Bureau for more information about the preparer, or check professional groups, like the State Board of Accountancy for CPAs, or the State Bar Association for attorneys.

This IRS page on tax return preparer credentials and qualifications can help you identify a legitimate prepare. And we provide other tips for selecting a tax return preparer here.

Our advice? Call us! McManamon & Co. offers expert tax services to small and midsize businesses, from basic filings to payroll taxes to compliance services and more. And while we’re happy to provide you with all of our credentials so you know we’re the real deal, you can also visit the IRS’s suggested resource sites to put your mind at ease.

Let us get you through the tax season scam-free. Call McManamon at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

Tags:  , , , , , | Posted in McManamon & Co., taxes