There’s a warrant out for my arrest, according to the message on my home phone.
The charge is criminal tax evasion and tax fraud.
The cops are coming for me, unless…
Unless, the caller suggests, I call this number and send money.
Who knew the feds could be bought off?
Of course, it’s a scam.
But it must work often enough that crooks have invested in robo callers and phone messages.
Why tax scams work
Who wouldn’t be afraid of arrest and imprisonment? Frightening, isolating, humiliating.
You against the tax collectors hardly seems like an even match.
Perhaps the scammers count on you having a guilty conscience about your taxes. Or on you having some other secret or vulnerability that you’d pay to keep hidden.
The statistics on the phony tax collector scam suggest it works, millions of dollars worth.
The IRS lists this gambit high in its annual list of tax scams.
“Don’t be fooled by surprise phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents with threats or promises of a big refund if you provide them with your private information,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “If you’re surprised to get a call from the IRS, it almost certainly isn’t the real IRS. We generally initially contact taxpayers by mail.
The IRS recommends hanging up on these folks. Don’t engage. Don’t provide information.
And I’d add, don’t worry.
Tax collection basics
First and most importantly, if you were truly charged with a crime, the feds wouldn’t call up and invite you to buy your way out. That its self would be a crime.
Second, the taxing authorities are required by due process, statutes, and economic considerations to try to collect taxes without involving courts and law enforcement. If you really owe taxes, you get heaps of paper, notices and such, in an attempt to get you to pay voluntarily.
Third, criminal tax cases are few and focused on big-number cases. Neither you nor I handle the kind of money that would trigger a criminal action.
So, you’re welcome to come visit me, only it won’t be in jail.
More on taxes
Reasons to file the return, even without payment