IRS Warns of Fake Tax Bill Emails
Numerous reports of scammers sending fraudulent CP2000 Notices for tax-year 2015 have been received by the IRS, resulting in an investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The notice relates to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and requests information regarding 2014 coverage and includes a request for payment of unpaid taxes. Here's what taxpayers like you need to know:
What is a CP2000 Notice?
A CP2000 Notice is generated by the IRS Automated Underreporter Program when income reported from third-party sources (such as an employer) does not match the income reported on the tax return. It provides extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed.
Commonly mailed to taxpayers through the United States Postal Service, a CP2000 Notice is never sent as part of an email to taxpayers.
What to watch out for:
Taxpayers and tax professionals should be on guard against fake emails purporting to contain an IRS tax bill related to the Affordable Care Act. Generally, the scam involves an email that includes the fake CP2000 notice as an attachment.
Indicators that the CP2000 Notice you received is a scam include the following:
- Notices are sent electronically, even though the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or through social media platforms;
- The CP2000 notices appear to be issued from an Austin, Texas, address;
- The underreported issue is related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requesting information regarding 2014 coverage;
- The payment voucher lists the letter number as 105C.
The fraudulent CP2000 Notice includes a payment request that taxpayers mail a check made out to "I.R.S." and sent to the "Austin Processing Center" at a Post Office Box address. This is in addition to a "payment" link within the email itself. In addition, if taxpayers are unable to pay, it provides instructions for payment options such as installment payments.
Unlike the fake version a real CP2000 Notice provides extensive instructions to taxpayers about what to do if they agree or disagree that additional tax is owed. A real notice also requests that checks be made out to "United States Treasury."
To determine if a CP2000 Notice that you received in the mail is real, go to the IRS website and use the search term, "Understanding Your CP2000 Notice." You will see an image of a real notice.
IRS Impersonation Scams
IRS impersonation scams take many forms: threatening telephone calls, phishing emails, and demanding letters. Often, the person on the phone will state the IRS is suing the taxpayer and they must make payment using a credit card. Anyone who receives this scam email should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org and then immediately delete it from their email account.
Taxpayers should always beware of any unsolicited email purported to be from the IRS or any unknown source. They should never open an attachment or click on a link within an email sent by sources they do not know.
What you should do:
Individuals with questions about a notice or letter they receive from the IRS can generally do a keyword search for "Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter" on the IRS.gov website and view explanations and images of common correspondence.
Don't hesitate to contact the office if you have any questions about any IRS notices or letters you have received in the mail or otherwise.
Bill Roeser, CPA, CVA, CFP