IRS names 'Dirty Dozen' tax scams

The IRS has named identity theft and preparer fraud as two of the “dirty dozen” scams taxpayers could face this filing season.

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In a release, the agency also warned taxpayers about an increasingly prevalent scheme in which scammers pretend to be IRS employees on the phone to try and steal people’s money or identities. The content of those calls can vary, the IRS said, with scammers potentially promising large refunds or threatening arrest unless the victims pay what they owe.

"Taxpayers should be on the lookout for tax scams using the IRS name,” John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, said in a statement. “These schemes jump every year at tax time. Scams can be sophisticated and take many different forms. We urge people to protect themselves and use caution when viewing e-mails, receiving telephone calls or getting advice on tax issues.”

Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Committee this month that the IRS “has gotten much better at resolving identity theft cases,” noting that the agency had closed almost one million cases in 2013 — twice as many as the previous year.

The commissioner, who has been on the job for less than two months, has consistently sounded the alarm about the IRS’s reduced budget, which he says hurts the services the IRS can offer taxpayers.

The agency’s efforts to broadly regulate paid tax preparers — which the IRS says can protect taxpayers from the small number of unscrupulous preparers — received a setback in federal appeals court this month.

Other scams the IRS is warning against include fake charitable organizations, often in the wake of a natural disaster, and phishing — online attempts to steal money or personal information.