Thursday, December 19, 2013
AN URGENT CALL FROM A CLIENT
A client called me. Or actually she tried but could not reach me, so she emailed me and said it was urgent that I call her right away.
When I did call her she said she had received a phone call this morning from a person who said he was from the IRS and needed information to satisfy a balance due.
The client was skeptical and said she had never received a notice of any balance due. The person on the phone said that a letter was delivered on November 15th, but there was nobody at her home to accept the letter.
The client was told that she could not call anyone, not even her husband (who is deceased), and that if she hung up without providing the necessary information he would send someone to her home immediately to arrest her. Thankfully she did hang up. Obviously nobody showed up at her door.
1) The IRS will never initiate contact with a taxpayer by telephone or email. The IRS will always send a written notice via postal mail. If you do not respond to a written notice, if requested, on a timely basis you will receive several more letters or notices in the mail over a long period of time. But everything will be done via postal mail.
2) If a letter from the IRS has been sent it will always be mailed through regular postal channels. If the client had not been at home on November 15th when the letter was supposedly delivered it would have been left in the mailbox, or, if, as is often the case, it was send via registered mail a green or orange card would have been left in the mailbox telling the assressee to go to the Post Office to sign for and pick up the letter.
3) Nothing with the IRS is ever immediate. You have 90-days, 60-days, 30-days, and multiples thereof, in various situations to respond to any IRS notice.
4) One spouse can always discuss the issue on a jointly filed return with the other spouse. And you always have the right to contact a lawyer, or if dealing with the IRS an Enrolled Agent, to review any notice, request for information, or alleged balance due before responding.
5) The IRS will never threaten to, and will never, send a federal officer to your door to take you into custody if you do not agree to immediately respond to them.
6) The IRS does not need you to provide credit card or bank information to get money from you for a seriously outstanding tax debt. If they want they can always obtain bank information via a legal search and place a lien or levy on, and garnish, any bank accounts you have. But the Service will not resort to this for a long time.
I told all this to my client, who said she had figured it must be a phone scam but just wanted to be sure.
If you ever receive a telephone call from someone alleging to be from the Internal Revenue Service tell the person to “put it in writing” and immediately hang up.
If you ever receive an email allegedly from the Internal Revenue Service do not open it. Forward the email unopened to firstname.lastname@example.org and delete it immediately.
If you receive any correspondence in the mail from the IRS, or a state tax agency, give the letter, or a copy, to your tax professional immediately.