Friday, July 11, 2008

Scammers Use e-Mail, Fax to Pose as IRS

Con Man
Scammers Use e-Mail, Fax to Pose as IRS

IR-2008-88, July 10, 2008

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service cautions taxpayers to be on the lookout for a new wave of scams using the IRS name in identity theft e-mails, or phishing, that have circulated during the last two months.

In May and June alone, taxpayers reported almost 700 separate phishing incidents to the IRS. In 2008 so far, taxpayers have reported about 1,600 phishing incidents to the IRS.

“Taxpayers should take steps to keep their personal information out of the hands of identity thieves,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “That includes not falling for any of the phony e-mails or faxes now in circulation pretending to come from the IRS.”

The most common scams involve tax refunds and, this year, economic stimulus payments.

Although most of these scams consist of e-mails requesting detailed personal information, the IRS generally does not send e-mails to taxpayers, does not discuss tax account matters with taxpayers in e-mails, and does not request security-related personal information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers.

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Stephen Martinez

Debtors Prison
IRS May Have Goofed on 385,000 Stimulus Payments

Calculations of economic stimulus payments by the Internal Revenue Service may have been wrong in nearly 400,000 cases.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee that as of June 13, the IRS had issued approximately 76.5 million stimulus payments totaling approximately $63.9 billion. His office has determined that the IRS correctly calculated the stimulus payment for 99.6 percent of the returns.

However, TIGTA identified approximately 385,000 stimulus payments in which its calculation did not agree with the IRS's. The differences in some cases resulted from programming that did not include all qualified self-employment income and losses in the determination of eligibility. As of May 30, 2008, TIGTA had identified approximately 25,000 returns for which the stimulus payment was not allowed.

"In these cases, TIGTA believes that taxpayers were entitled to an additional $16.5 million," said George. "These errors affected clergy and other individuals whose income is not subject to the self-employment tax."

Many taxpayers did not receive the child portion of the stimulus payment because they did not check the Child Tax Credit qualifying box on the tax return. When TIGTA raised this concern, the IRS initially responded that it could not allow the child portion of the stimulus payment in these instances because eligibility for the Child Tax Credit could not be determined from the information on the tax return.

The IRS subsequently announced that it would issue the additional child portion of the stimulus payment to approximately 350,000 households in July. TIGTA is in the process of quantifying the number of individuals that might be affected

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Stephen Martinez

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