Beware of scams targeting taxpayers

Beware of scams targeting taxpayers

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - As you file your taxes, be aware of criminals posing as tax agents to collect fake payments.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue said Thursday it has received increasing reports of taxpayers being contacted via phone by criminals attempting to intimidate and collect payment for nonexistent tax debts.

“The North Carolina Department of Revenue is committed to safeguarding information,” said Secretary Ronald G. Penny. “This tax season, we are working harder than ever to prevent identity theft and stop refund fraud. We also want North Carolinians to know what the NCDOR will and will not do so that taxpayers can protect themselves from fraud.”

As a reminder, the NCDOR does NOT do the following:

  • The NCDOR will not contact a  taxpayer in person unless the agency has first attempted to provide  the taxpayer with notification(s) via mail.  
  • The NCDOR will not require a  taxpayer to use any specific payment method unless the taxpayer is  in the collection process for past-due liabilities. The NCDOR offers  numerous payment options; taxpayers may choose the method that is most  convenient for them. 
  • The NCDOR will not initiate  communications to demand immediate payment from taxpayers via text  message, social media, or email. 
  • The NCDOR will not demand a  taxpayer pay taxes without first giving the taxpayer an opportunity to  question or appeal the amount owed. 

Here is what taxpayers can expect when NCDOR does initiate contact:

  • When a  tax liability is in collections: Collection personnel  may call or visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced to collect  past due taxes. In the event an in-person visit occurs, NCDOR personnel  have been trained to present credentials to validate employment with the  agency. NCDOR employees will not visit a taxpayer until a notification has  been sent to the taxpayer through the mail. Forced collection activities  can be taken when a taxpayer becomes noncompliant with the North Carolina  tax laws. Learn more about the collection process.   
  • When a  taxpayer is being audited: Auditors may call taxpayers  to set up appointments to discuss an ongoing audit. Auditors may visit  taxpayers, but only after scheduling an appointment. In-person visits are  preceded by an audit confirmation letter. 
  • When a  taxpayer is being charged criminally: Investigators may  visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an  investigation. These are Revenue Law Enforcement agents who are  responsible for addressing serious, criminal tax violations, and  prosecution of tax fraud. Please note: processes and procedures may differ  for a taxpayer who is under criminal investigation by the NCDOR. 

Due to NCDOR’s enhanced identity theft protection measures, some refunds may take longer than normal, which is 8 weeks for electronically-filed returns and 12 weeks for paper returns.

Please report IRS or Treasury-related fraudulent calls to phishing@irs.gov (Subject: IRS Phone Scam).

The IRS is also warning of another scam involving ‘ghost’ tax return preparers.

Beware of scams targeting taxpayers

By law, anyone who is paid to prepare or assist in preparing federal tax returns must have a valid 2019 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN. Paid preparers must sign the return and include their PTIN. But ‘ghost’ preparers do not sign the return. Instead, they print the return and tell the taxpayer to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or, for e-filed returns, they prepare but refuse to digitally sign it as the paid preparer.

The IRS urges taxpayers to review their tax return carefully before signing and ask questions if something is not clear. For any direct deposit refund, taxpayers should make sure both the routing and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct.

The IRS offers tips to help taxpayers choose a tax return preparer wisely. The Choosing a Tax Professional page has information about tax preparer credentials and qualifications. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications can help identify many preparers by type of credential or qualification.

Taxpayers can report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer.

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