IRS Urges Public to Stay Alert for Scam Phone Calls

The IRS continues to warn consumers to guard against scam phone calls from thieves intent on stealing their money or their identity. Criminals pose as the IRS to trick victims out of their money or personal information. Here are several tips to help you avoid being a victim of these scams:

  • Scammers make unsolicited calls.  Thieves call taxpayers claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They con the victim into sending cash, usually through a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. They may also leave “urgent” callback requests through phone “robo-calls,” or via phishing email.
  • Callers try to scare their victims.  Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They may even threaten to arrest, deport or revoke the driver's license of their victim if they don’t get the money.
  • Scams use caller ID spoofing.  Scammers often alter your phone caller ID to make it look like the IRS or another agency is calling. The callers use IRS titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They may use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.
  • Cons try new tricks all the time.  Some schemes provide an actual IRS address where they tell the victim to mail a receipt for the payment they make. Others use emails that contain a fake IRS document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. These scams often use official IRS letterhead in emails or regular mail that they send to their victims. They try these ploys to make the ruse look official.
  • Scams cost victims over $23 million.  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or TIGTA, has received reports of about 736,000 scam contacts since October 2013. Nearly 4,550 victims have collectively paid over $23 million as a result of the scam.

The IRS will not:

  • Call you to demand immediate payment. The IRS will not call you if you owe taxes without first sending you a notice in the mail.
  • Demand that you pay taxes and not allow you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • Require that you pay your taxes a certain way. For instance, require that you pay with a prepaid debit card.
  • Ask for your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Threaten to bring in police or other agencies to arrest you for not paying.

If you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to think that you do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" in the notes.

If you know you owe, or think you may owe tax:

  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.
  • Phone scams first tried to sting older people, new immigrants to the U.S. and those who speak English as a second language. Now the crooks try to swindle just about anyone. And they’ve ripped-off people in every state in the nation.

Stay alert to scams that use the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not just at tax time. For more, visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

John Paul Jones House

Health care reform is now law and everyone will be affected by it's provisions. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act overhauls the health care environment in the U. S. The goal of the reform is to provide a minimum level of coverage for eligible individuals. Almost everyone will be required to have health insurance. Lower income individuals will receive tax credits to help pay for coverage. Those choosing not to carry coverage will pay penalties.

The Act places new responsibilities on employers that will change the nature of employer provided health care. Employers will be required to offer qualifying coverage or pay additional taxes. There is an exception for smaller businesses.

The Act's provisions go into effect in phases over time and will be in place completely by 2018. Business owners, especially, need to understand the impact that the Act may have on their bottom line. What can we expect?Health care reform is now law and everyone will be affected by it's provisions. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act overhauls the health care environment in the U. S. The goal of the reform is to provide a minimum level of coverage for eligible individuals. Almost everyone will be required to have health insurance. Lower income individuals will receive tax credits to help pay for coverage. Those choosing not to carry coverage will pay penalties.

The Act places new responsibilities on employers that will change the nature of employer provided health care. Employers will be required to offer qualifying coverage or pay additional taxes. There is an exception for smaller businesses.

The Act's provisions go into effect in phases over time and will be in place completely by 2018. Business owners, especially, need to understand the impact that the Act may have on their bottom line. What can we expect?

The Small Employer Health Insurance Tax Credit will give the "small employer" who purchases qualified insurance through the SHOP Marketplace (25 full-time employees or less with average annual wages of less than $50,000 per employee) a credit of up to 50% of the employer's contribution towards employee' coverage. Employers with less than 10 employees and average wages of less than $25,000 will get the full credit. The credit is phased out as the number of employees and wages increase. In addition to the credit, small businesses may be able to pool together, to spread coverage which should result in lower costs.

Larger employers (50 full-time employees or more) will be subject to tax penalties for not offering affordable, essential coverage to employees. Employers that offer coverage to their employees will be required to provide "Free Choice Vouchers" to employees who meet income level guidelines. The employee can then use the voucher amount to purchase their own coverage elsewhere.

Some additional provisions:

- Employers will have to disclose the health insurance benefit amount on the employees' W-2, even though it won't be considered taxable.

- Most employers providing essential coverage will have to file information with the IRS. The filings will provide identity, months covered and amounts paid by each employee. In addition, information will have to be filed with the Department of Health and Human Services.

- The Act provides a reinsurance program for retirees aged 55 or older who are not eligible for Medicare.

- The Act imposes restrictions on FSA, MSA, and HSAs. Only prescribed medications will be eligible for these plans. The penalty for non-medical withdrawals has increased to 20%.

- High income individuals are to higher Medicare taxes, in the form of a .9% tax on income above certain levels. In addition, there is a surtax on investment income, called the "unearned income Medicare contribution".

- The floor for deductible medical expenses has increased to 10% for those under 65.

Health care reform will have an impact on businesses. To what extent depends on a number of factors, including its' size, current health care coverage and the makeup of the employees, to name just a few. Having a better understanding of the changes imposed by the Act will help in planning your future health care coverage needs.

Excerpts taken from What Health Care Reform Means For Your Business by NPI.

Health Care Reform