Tips, advice, and the latest news from the savings world.
Each tax season, Americans are bombarded with numerous IRS scams and fraudulent schemes. There are lots of myths and urban legends floating around social media and the internet. Taxpayers should take caution and know that:
- The IRS will never contact you by email, text or social media.
If you have an outstanding payment or balance due to the IRS you will be contacted by snail mail first. You will never receive an email, text, or message on social media demanding that you pay the IRS. If you receive unsolicited, aggressive communications from anyone posing as the IRS DO NOT reply and report the incident immediately (see reporting information below).
- The IRS will never demand immediate payment.
If you receive a written notice or call demanding immediate payment, take caution. The IRS will always notify you by mail if you owe money. You will receive multiple letters leading up to your final notice. Additionally, each letter will include a payment due date and instructions on how to settle your balance.
- The IRS will never require you to use a specific method of payment.
There are many convenient payment options available for individuals who owe federal taxes. If you are called and asked to use a specific form of payment like a prepaid card, iTunes card, wire transfer or gift card, hang up the phone.
If you are told you can only make your payment in full, that’s another red flag. The IRS is willing to work with you, and you can apply for a payment plan online. For a full listing of acceptable ways to pay the IRS, go to www.irs.gov/payments.
- The IRS will never call and demand that you share personal information over the phone.
You can choose to pay your taxes by phone using the payment processing system. However, it’s important to note that the IRS will never call you and demand your credit card information.
We want to make the distinction clear: paying by phone is optional, but it will never be forced upon you. For a full listing of acceptable ways to pay the IRS, go to www.irs.gov/payments.
- The IRS will never threaten to get the police involved.
Legal action can be taken by the IRS if you neglect to pay your bill or fail to explain why you haven’t paid. But legal action does not equal threats to have you arrested or taken into custody. The IRS can seize your property, garnish your wages, or take money from your bank account to pay your debt. If someone calls you and threatens to call the police, hang up. That person is not a representative of the IRS.
Report Incidents Immediately
If you receive any unsolicited communications or contacts by an individual claiming they are the IRS, hang up or do not reply, and report it immediately.
Have a plan in mind when you file your taxes. If you’re due a refund, go ahead and split it up into multiple accounts (think checking, saving, and retirement or college saving account) using the 30-40-30 plan:
- 30% of your refund to pay off outstanding debts or catch up on bills
- 40% of your refund to pay for current expenses, needs, or wants
- 30% of your refund to establish or build up savings. This could be an emergency fund (start with $500) or longer-term like retirement or a large purchase like a home.
Use IRS Form 8888 to split your refund in up to THREE accounts. Form 8888 can be accessed with your tax preparer during your tax preparation appointment. It’s easy to use, so don’t forget to ask if your preparer doesn’t suggest it.
PRO TIP: Add the account and routing numbers or blank checks of the accounts you are using for the 30-40-30 plan to your tax documents folder so you’re ready to fill in Form 8888 before your complete your tax return.
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