Recently I received a voicemail informing me that the IRS had filed a lawsuit against me and urging me to contact a customer assistance line. I deleted the message. A day or two later, I received the same identical message. I deleted that one too.

This is not the first time that a con artist has tried to use the threat of tax liability in an effort to con people out of their hard-earned money. I believe that the key to avoiding the scammers is to know how the IRS actually operates. From my experience with working with the IRS I have learned the following:

  1. The IRS rarely sues anyone. If the IRS believes that you owe taxes they will send you a document in the mail called a “Notice of Assessment”. If you don’t contest the assessment and don’t pay the amount owed, the IRS will send you another letter called a “Notice of Levy”. If you still do nothing the IRS will simply take your money. The IRS doesn’t need to file a lawsuit to take your money. And, it is legally only allowed to take your money only after sending a mini-blizzard of notices so that you have the chance to respond. If you didn’t receive the IRS notices, you likely will get a letter from your bank stating that the IRS is attempting to levy your account (i.e. take your money) and that they will be allowed to do so within 21-days.
  2. The IRS does not usually call people. While I can’t say emphatically that the IRS never calls anyone, I can say that they prefer to operate using the US Post Office. They don’t use email. In fact, I cannot remember a single case of the IRS calling a taxpayer. Much more common is, when trying to talk to an IRS Agent on the phone, you as the taxpayer, should budget at least 45 minutes of your time to wait on hold until you’re able to speak with an actual IRS Agent.

The IRS itself is on the lookout for tax scams. Please click on the links below for more information.