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2010 tax software free download Publication 1544 - Main Content Table of Contents Why Report These Payments? Who Must File Form 8300?What Payments Must Be Reported? What Is Cash? Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) What Is a Related Transaction? What About Suspicious Transactions? When, Where, and What To File Examples Penalties How To Get Tax HelpLow Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). 2010 tax software free download Why Report These Payments? Drug dealers and smugglers often use large cash payments to “launder” money from illegal activities. 2010 tax software free download Laundering means converting “dirty” or illegally-gained money to “clean” money. 2010 tax software free download The government can often trace this laundered money through the payments you report. 2010 tax software free download Laws passed by Congress require you to report these payments. 2010 tax software free download Your compliance with these laws provides valuable information that can stop those who evade taxes and those who profit from the drug trade and other criminal activities. 2010 tax software free download The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 increased the scope of these laws to help trace funds used for terrorism. 2010 tax software free download Who Must File Form 8300? Generally, any person in a trade or business who receives more than $10,000 in cash in a single transaction or in related transactions must file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download For example, you may have to file Form 8300 if you are a dealer in jewelry, furniture, boats, aircraft, or automobiles; a pawnbroker; an attorney; a real estate broker; an insurance company; or a travel agency. 2010 tax software free download Special rules for clerks of federal or state courts are discussed later under Bail received by court clerks. 2010 tax software free download However, you do not have to file Form 8300 if the transaction is not related to your trade or business. 2010 tax software free download For example, if you own a jewelry store and sell your personal automobile for more than $10,000 in cash, you would not submit a Form 8300 for that transaction. 2010 tax software free download Transaction defined. 2010 tax software free download    A “transaction” occurs when: Goods, services, or property are sold; Property is rented; Cash is exchanged for other cash; A contribution is made to a trust or escrow account; A loan is made or repaid; or Cash is converted to a negotiable instrument, such as a check or a bond. 2010 tax software free download Person defined. 2010 tax software free download   A “person” includes an individual, a company, a corporation, a partnership, an association, a trust, or an estate. 2010 tax software free download   Exempt organizations, including employee plans, are also “persons. 2010 tax software free download ” However, exempt organizations do not have to file Form 8300 for a more-than-$10,000 charitable cash contribution they receive since it is not received in the course of a trade or business. 2010 tax software free download Foreign transactions. 2010 tax software free download   You do not have to file Form 8300 if the entire transaction (including the receipt of cash) takes place outside of: The 50 states, The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or A possession or territory of the United States. 2010 tax software free download However, you must file Form 8300 if any part of the transaction (including the receipt of cash) occurs in Puerto Rico or a possession or territory of the United States and you are subject to the Internal Revenue Code. 2010 tax software free download Bail received by court clerks. 2010 tax software free download   Any clerk of a federal or state court who receives more than $10,000 in cash as bail for an individual charged with any of the following criminal offenses must file Form 8300: Any federal offense involving a controlled substance, Racketeering, Money laundering, and Any state offense substantially similar to (1), (2), or (3) above. 2010 tax software free download For more information about the rules that apply to court clerks, see Section 1. 2010 tax software free download 6050I-2 of the Income Tax Regulations. 2010 tax software free download What Payments Must Be Reported? You must file Form 8300 to report cash paid to you if it is: Over $10,000, Received as: One lump sum of over $10,000, Installment payments that cause the total cash received within 1 year of the initial payment to total more than $10,000, or Other previously unreportable payments that cause the total cash received within a 12-month period to total more than $10,000, Received in the course of your trade or business, Received from the same buyer (or agent), and Received in a single transaction or in related transactions (defined later). 2010 tax software free download What Is Cash? Cash is: The coins and currency of the United States (and any other country), and A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order you receive, if it has a face amount of $10,000 or less and you receive it in: A designated reporting transaction (defined later), or Any transaction in which you know the payer is trying to avoid the reporting of the transaction on Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download Cash may include a cashier's check even if it is called a “treasurer's check” or “bank check. 2010 tax software free download ” Cash does not include a check drawn on an individual's personal account. 2010 tax software free download A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order with a face amount of more than $10,000 is not treated as cash. 2010 tax software free download These items are not defined as cash and you do not have to file Form 8300 when you receive them because, if they were bought with currency, the bank or other financial institution that issued them must file a report on FinCEN Form 104. 2010 tax software free download Example 1. 2010 tax software free download You are a coin dealer. 2010 tax software free download Bob Green buys gold coins from you for $13,200. 2010 tax software free download He pays for them with $6,200 in U. 2010 tax software free download S. 2010 tax software free download currency and a cashier's check having a face amount of $7,000. 2010 tax software free download The cashier's check is treated as cash. 2010 tax software free download You have received more than $10,000 cash and must file Form 8300 for this transaction. 2010 tax software free download Example 2. 2010 tax software free download You are a retail jeweler. 2010 tax software free download Mary North buys an item of jewelry from you for $12,000. 2010 tax software free download She pays for it with a personal check payable to you in the amount of $9,600 and traveler's checks totaling $2,400. 2010 tax software free download Because the personal check is not treated as cash, you have not received more than $10,000 cash in the transaction. 2010 tax software free download You do not have to file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download Example 3. 2010 tax software free download You are a boat dealer. 2010 tax software free download Emily Jones buys a boat from you for $16,500. 2010 tax software free download She pays for it with a cashier's check payable to you in the amount of $16,500. 2010 tax software free download The cashier's check is not treated as cash because its face amount is more than $10,000. 2010 tax software free download You do not have to file Form 8300 for this transaction. 2010 tax software free download Designated Reporting Transaction A designated reporting transaction is the retail sale of any of the following: A consumer durable, such as an automobile or boat. 2010 tax software free download A consumer durable is property, other than land or buildings, that: Is suitable for personal use, Can reasonably be expected to last at least 1 year under ordinary use, Has a sales price of more than $10,000, and Can be seen or touched (tangible property). 2010 tax software free download For example, a $20,000 car is a consumer durable, but a $20,000 dump truck or factory machine is not. 2010 tax software free download The car is a consumer durable even if you sell it to a buyer who will use it in a business. 2010 tax software free download A collectible (for example, a work of art, rug, antique, metal, gem, stamp, or coin). 2010 tax software free download Travel or entertainment, if the total sales price of all items sold for the same trip or entertainment event in one transaction (or related transactions) is more than $10,000. 2010 tax software free download To figure the total sales price of all items sold for a trip or entertainment event, you include the sales price of items such as airfare, hotel rooms, and admission tickets. 2010 tax software free download Example. 2010 tax software free download You are a travel agent. 2010 tax software free download Ed Johnson asks you to charter a passenger airplane to take a group to a sports event in another city. 2010 tax software free download He also asks you to book hotel rooms and admission tickets for the group. 2010 tax software free download In payment, he gives you two money orders, each for $6,000. 2010 tax software free download You have received more than $10,000 cash in this designated reporting transaction. 2010 tax software free download You must file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download Retail sale. 2010 tax software free download   The term “retail sale” means any sale made in the course of a trade or business that consists mainly of making sales to ultimate consumers. 2010 tax software free download   Thus, if your business consists mainly of making sales to ultimate consumers, all sales you make in the course of that business are retail sales. 2010 tax software free download This includes any sales of items that will be resold. 2010 tax software free download Broker or intermediary. 2010 tax software free download   A designated reporting transaction includes the retail sale of items (1), (2), or (3) of the preceding list, even if the funds are received by a broker or other intermediary, rather than directly by the seller. 2010 tax software free download Exceptions to Definition of Cash A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order you received in a designated reporting transaction is not treated as cash if one of the following exceptions applies. 2010 tax software free download Exception for certain bank loans. 2010 tax software free download   A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order is not treated as cash if it is the proceeds from a bank loan. 2010 tax software free download As proof that it is from a bank loan, you may rely on a copy of the loan document, a written statement or lien instruction from the bank, or similar proof. 2010 tax software free download Example. 2010 tax software free download You are a car dealer. 2010 tax software free download Mandy White buys a new car from you for $11,500. 2010 tax software free download She pays you with $2,000 of U. 2010 tax software free download S. 2010 tax software free download currency and a cashier's check for $9,500 payable to you and her. 2010 tax software free download You can tell that the cashier's check is the proceeds of a bank loan because it includes instructions to you to have a lien put on the car as security for the loan. 2010 tax software free download For this reason, the cashier's check is not treated as cash. 2010 tax software free download You do not have to file Form 8300 for the transaction. 2010 tax software free download Exception for certain installment sales. 2010 tax software free download   A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order is not treated as cash if it is received in payment on a promissory note or an installment sales contract (including a lease that is considered a sale for federal tax purposes). 2010 tax software free download However, this exception applies only if: You use similar notes or contracts in other sales to ultimate consumers in the ordinary course of your trade or business, and The total payments for the sale that you receive on or before the 60th day after the sale are 50% or less of the purchase price. 2010 tax software free download Exception for certain down payment plans. 2010 tax software free download   A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order is not treated as cash if you received it in payment for a consumer durable or collectible, and all three of the following statements are true. 2010 tax software free download You receive it under a payment plan requiring: One or more down payments, and Payment of the rest of the purchase price by the date of sale. 2010 tax software free download You receive it more than 60 days before the date of sale. 2010 tax software free download You use payment plans with the same or substantially similar terms when selling to ultimate consumers in the ordinary course of your trade or business. 2010 tax software free download Exception for travel and entertainment. 2010 tax software free download   A cashier's check, bank draft, traveler's check, or money order received for travel or entertainment is not treated as cash if all three of the following statements are true. 2010 tax software free download You receive it under a payment plan requiring: One or more down payments, and Payment of the rest of the purchase price by the earliest date that any travel or entertainment item (such as airfare) is furnished for the trip or entertainment event. 2010 tax software free download You receive it more than 60 days before the date on which the final payment is due. 2010 tax software free download You use payment plans with the same or substantially similar terms when selling to ultimate consumers in the ordinary course of your trade or business. 2010 tax software free download Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) You must furnish the correct TIN of the person or persons from whom you receive the cash. 2010 tax software free download If the transaction is conducted on the behalf of another person or persons, you must furnish the TIN of that person or persons. 2010 tax software free download If you do not know a person's TIN, you have to ask for it. 2010 tax software free download You may be subject to penalties for an incorrect or missing TIN. 2010 tax software free download There are three types of TINs. 2010 tax software free download The TIN for an individual, including a sole proprietor, is the individual's social security number (SSN). 2010 tax software free download The TIN for a nonresident alien individual who needs a TIN but is not eligible to get an SSN is an IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). 2010 tax software free download An ITIN has nine digits, similar to an SSN. 2010 tax software free download The TIN for other persons, including corporations, partnerships, and estates, is the employer identification number (EIN). 2010 tax software free download Exception. 2010 tax software free download   You are not required to provide the TIN of a person who is a nonresident alien individual or a foreign organization if that person or foreign organization: Does not have income effectively connected with the conduct of a U. 2010 tax software free download S. 2010 tax software free download trade or business; Does not have an office or place of business, or a fiscal or paying agent in the United States; Does not file a federal tax return; Does not furnish a withholding certificate described in §1. 2010 tax software free download 1441-1(e)(2) or (3) or 1. 2010 tax software free download 1441-5(c)(2)(iv) or (3)(iii) to the extent required under 1. 2010 tax software free download 1441-1(e)(4)(vii); Does not have to furnish a TIN on any return, statement, or other document as required by the income tax regulations under section 897 or 1445; or In the case of a nonresident alien individual, the individual has not chosen to file a joint federal income tax return with a spouse who is a U. 2010 tax software free download S. 2010 tax software free download citizen or resident. 2010 tax software free download What Is a Related Transaction? Any transactions between a buyer (or an agent of the buyer) and a seller that occur within a 24-hour period are related transactions. 2010 tax software free download If you receive over $10,000 in cash during two or more transactions with one buyer in a 24-hour period, you must treat the transactions as one transaction and report the payments on Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download For example, if you sell two products for $6,000 each to the same customer in 1 day and the customer pays you in cash, these are related transactions. 2010 tax software free download Because they total $12,000 (more than $10,000), you must file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download More than 24 hours between transactions. 2010 tax software free download   Transactions are related even if they are more than 24 hours apart if you know, or have reason to know, that each is one of a series of connected transactions. 2010 tax software free download   For example, you are a travel agent. 2010 tax software free download A client pays you $8,000 in cash for a trip. 2010 tax software free download Two days later, the same client pays you $3,000 more in cash to include another person on the trip. 2010 tax software free download These are related transactions, and you must file Form 8300 to report them. 2010 tax software free download What About Suspicious Transactions? If you receive $10,000 or less in cash, you may voluntarily file Form 8300 if the transaction appears to be suspicious. 2010 tax software free download A transaction is suspicious if it appears that a person is trying to cause you not to file Form 8300 or is trying to cause you to file a false or incomplete Form 8300, or if there is a sign of possible illegal activity. 2010 tax software free download If you are suspicious, you are encouraged to call the local IRS Criminal Investigation Division as soon as possible. 2010 tax software free download Or, you can call the FinCEN Financial Institution Hotline toll free at 1-866-556-3974. 2010 tax software free download When, Where, and What To File The amount you receive and when you receive it determine when you must file. 2010 tax software free download Generally, you must file Form 8300 within 15 days after receiving a payment. 2010 tax software free download If the Form 8300 due date (the 15th or last day you can timely file the form) falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, it is delayed until the next day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. 2010 tax software free download More than one payment. 2010 tax software free download   In some transactions, the buyer may arrange to pay you in cash installment payments. 2010 tax software free download If the first payment is more than $10,000, you must file Form 8300 within 15 days. 2010 tax software free download If the first payment is not more than $10,000, you must add the first payment and any later payments made within 1 year of the first payment. 2010 tax software free download When the total cash payments are more than $10,000, you must file Form 8300 within 15 days. 2010 tax software free download   After you file Form 8300, you must start a new count of cash payments received from that buyer. 2010 tax software free download If you receive more than $10,000 in additional cash payments from that buyer within a 12-month period, you must file another Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download You must file the form within 15 days of the payment that causes the additional payments to total more than $10,000. 2010 tax software free download   If you are already required to file Form 8300 and you receive additional payments within the 15 days before you must file, you can report all the payments on one form. 2010 tax software free download Example. 2010 tax software free download On January 10, you receive a cash payment of $11,000. 2010 tax software free download You receive additional cash payments on the same transaction of $4,000 on February 15, $5,000 on March 20, and $6,000 on May 12. 2010 tax software free download By January 25, you must file a Form 8300 for the $11,000 payment. 2010 tax software free download By May 27, you must file an additional Form 8300 for the additional payments that total $15,000. 2010 tax software free download Amending a Report?   If you are amending a report, check box 1a at the top of Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download Complete the form in its entirety (Parts I-IV) and include the amended information. 2010 tax software free download Do not attach a copy of the original report. 2010 tax software free download Where to file. 2010 tax software free download   Mail the form to the address given in the Form 8300 instructions. 2010 tax software free download Required statement to buyer. 2010 tax software free download   You must give a written or electronic statement to each person named on any Form 8300 you must file. 2010 tax software free download You can give the statement electronically only if the recipient agrees to receive it in that format. 2010 tax software free download The statement must show the name and address of your business, the name and phone number of a contact person, and the total amount of reportable cash you received from the person during the year. 2010 tax software free download It must state that you are also reporting this information to the IRS. 2010 tax software free download   You must send this statement to the buyer by January 31 of the year after the year in which you received the cash that caused you to file the form. 2010 tax software free download    You must keep a copy of every Form 8300 you file for 5 years. 2010 tax software free download Examples Example 1. 2010 tax software free download Pat Brown is the sales manager for Small Town Cars. 2010 tax software free download On January 6, 2009, Jane Smith buys a new car from Pat and pays $18,000 in cash. 2010 tax software free download Pat asks for identification from Jane to get the necessary information to complete Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download A filled-in form is shown in this publication. 2010 tax software free download Pat must mail the form to the address shown in the form's instructions by January 21, 2009. 2010 tax software free download He must also send a statement to Jane by January 31, 2010. 2010 tax software free download Example 2. 2010 tax software free download Using the same facts given in Example 1, suppose Jane had arranged to make cash payments of $6,000 each on January 6, February 6, and March 6. 2010 tax software free download Pat would have to file a Form 8300 by February 26 (17 days after receiving total cash payments within 1 year over $10,000 because February 21, 2009, is a Saturday). 2010 tax software free download Pat would not have to report the remaining $6,000 cash payment because it is not more than $10,000. 2010 tax software free download However, he could report it if he felt it was a suspicious transaction. 2010 tax software free download Penalties There are civil penalties for failure to: File a correct Form 8300 by the date it is due, and Provide the required statement to those named in the Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download If you intentionally disregard the requirement to file a correct Form 8300 by the date it is due, the penalty is the greater of: $25,000, or The amount of cash you received and were required to report (up to $100,000). 2010 tax software free download There are criminal penalties for: Willful failure to file Form 8300, Willfully filing a false or fraudulent Form 8300, Stopping or trying to stop Form 8300 from being filed, and Setting up, helping to set up, or trying to set up a transaction in a way that would make it seem unnecessary to file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download If you willfully fail to file Form 8300, you can be fined up to $250,000 for individuals ($500,000 for corporations) or sentenced to up to 5 years in prison, or both. 2010 tax software free download These dollar amounts are based on Section 3571 of Title 18 of the U. 2010 tax software free download S. 2010 tax software free download Code. 2010 tax software free download The penalties for failure to file may also apply to any person (including a payer) who attempts to interfere with or prevent the seller (or business) from filing a correct Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download This includes any attempt to structure the transaction in a way that would make it seem unnecessary to file Form 8300. 2010 tax software free download Structuring means breaking up a large cash transaction into small cash transactions. 2010 tax software free download How To Get Tax Help You can get help with unresolved tax issues, order free publications and forms, ask tax questions, and get information from the IRS in several ways. 2010 tax software free download By selecting the method that is best for you, you will have quick and easy access to tax help. 2010 tax software free download Free help with your return. 2010 tax software free download   Free help in preparing your return is available nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. 2010 tax software free download The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is designed to help low-moderate income taxpayers and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program is designed to assist taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. 2010 tax software free download Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. 2010 tax software free download To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, visit IRS. 2010 tax software free download gov or call 1-800-906-9887 or 1-800-829-1040. 2010 tax software free download   As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. 2010 tax software free download To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, call 1-888-227-7669 or visit AARP's website at www. 2010 tax software free download aarp. 2010 tax software free download org/money/taxaide. 2010 tax software free download   For more information on these programs, go to IRS. 2010 tax software free download gov and enter keyword “VITA” in the upper right-hand corner. 2010 tax software free download Internet. 2010 tax software free download You can access the IRS website at IRS. 2010 tax software free download gov 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to: Check the status of your 2011 refund. 2010 tax software free download Go to IRS. 2010 tax software free download gov and click on Where's My Refund. 2010 tax software free download Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. 2010 tax software free download If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). 2010 tax software free download Have your 2011 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. 2010 tax software free download E-file your return. 2010 tax software free download Find out about commercial tax preparation and e-file services available free to eligible taxpayers. 2010 tax software free download Download forms, including talking tax forms, instructions, and publications. 2010 tax software free download Order IRS products online. 2010 tax software free download Research your tax questions online. 2010 tax software free download Search publications online by topic or keyword. 2010 tax software free download Use the online Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance. 2010 tax software free download View Internal Revenue Bulletins (IRBs) published in the last few years. 2010 tax software free download Figure your withholding allowances using the withholding calculator online at  www. 2010 tax software free download irs. 2010 tax software free download gov/individuals. 2010 tax software free download Determine if Form 6251 must be filed by using our Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Assistant available online at  www. 2010 tax software free download irs. 2010 tax software free download gov/individuals. 2010 tax software free download Sign up to receive local and national tax news by email. 2010 tax software free download Get information on starting and operating a small business. 2010 tax software free download Phone. 2010 tax software free download Many services are available by phone. 2010 tax software free download   Ordering forms, instructions, and publications. 2010 tax software free download Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, and publications, and prior-year forms and instructions. 2010 tax software free download You should receive your order within 10 days. 2010 tax software free download Asking tax questions. 2010 tax software free download Call the IRS with your tax questions at 1-800-829-1040. 2010 tax software free download Solving problems. 2010 tax software free download You can get face-to-face help solving tax problems every business day in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. 2010 tax software free download An employee can explain IRS letters, request adjustments to your account, or help you set up a payment plan. 2010 tax software free download Call your local Taxpayer Assistance Center for an appointment. 2010 tax software free download To find the number, go to www. 2010 tax software free download irs. 2010 tax software free download gov/localcontacts or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service. 2010 tax software free download TTY/TDD equipment. 2010 tax software free download If you have access to TTY/TDD equipment, call 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or to order forms and publications. 2010 tax software free download TeleTax topics. 2010 tax software free download Call 1-800-829-4477 to listen to pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics. 2010 tax software free download Refund information. 2010 tax software free download You can check the status of your refund on the new IRS phone app. 2010 tax software free download Download the free IRS2Go app by visiting the iTunes app store or the Android Marketplace. 2010 tax software free download IRS2Go is a new way to provide you with information and tools. 2010 tax software free download To check the status of your refund by phone, call 1-800-829-4477 (automated refund information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week). 2010 tax software free download Wait at least 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your e-filed return, or 3 to 4 weeks after mailing a paper return. 2010 tax software free download If you filed Form 8379 with your return, wait 14 weeks (11 weeks if you filed electronically). 2010 tax software free download Have your 2011 tax return available so you can provide your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. 2010 tax software free download If you check the status of your refund and are not given the date it will be issued, please wait until the next week before checking back. 2010 tax software free download Other refund information. 2010 tax software free download To check the status of a prior-year refund or amended return refund, call 1-800-829-1040. 2010 tax software free download Evaluating the quality of our telephone services. 2010 tax software free download To ensure IRS representatives give accurate, courteous, and professional answers, we use several methods to evaluate the quality of our telephone services. 2010 tax software free download One method is for a second IRS representative to listen in on or record random telephone calls. 2010 tax software free download Another is to ask some callers to complete a short survey at the end of the call. 2010 tax software free download Walk-in. 2010 tax software free download Many products and services are available on a walk-in basis. 2010 tax software free download   Products. 2010 tax software free download You can walk in to many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. 2010 tax software free download Some IRS offices, libraries, grocery stores, copy centers, city and county government offices, credit unions, and office supply stores have a collection of 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Online Scams that Impersonate the IRS

Video: Phishing-Malware:  English

FS-2010-9, January 2010

WASHINGTON — Consumers should protect themselves against online identity theft and other scams that increase during and linger after the filing season. Such scams may appropriate the name, logo or other appurtenances of the IRS or U.S. Department of the Treasury to mislead taxpayers into believing that the scam is legitimate.
    
Scams involving the impersonation of the IRS usually take the form of e-mails, tweets or other online messages to consumers. Scammers may also use phones and faxes to reach intended victims. Some scammers set up phony Web sites.

The IRS and E-mail

Generally, the IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails to taxpayers. Further, the IRS does not discuss tax account information with taxpayers via e-mail or use e-mail to solicit sensitive financial and personal information from taxpayers. The IRS does not request financial account security information, such as PIN numbers, from taxpayers.     

Object of Scams

Most scams impersonating the IRS are identity theft schemes. In this type of scam, the scammer poses as a legitimate institution to trick consumers into revealing personal and financial information — such as passwords and Social Security, PIN, bank account and credit card numbers — that can be used to gain access to and steal their bank, credit card or other financial accounts. Attempted identity theft scams that take place via e-mail are known as phishing. Other scams may try to persuade a victim to advance sums of money in the hope of realizing a larger gain. These are known as advance fee scams. 

Who Is Targeted

Anyone with a computer, phone or fax machine could receive a scam message or unknowingly visit a phony or misleading Web site. Individuals, businesses, educators, charities and others have been targeted by e-mails that claim to come from the IRS or Treasury Department. Scam e-mails are generally sent out in bulk, based on e-mail addresses (urls), similar to spam.

How an Identity Theft Scam Works

Most of the scams that impersonate the IRS are identity theft scams. Typically, a consumer will receive an e-mail that claims to come from the IRS or Treasury Department. The message will contain an enticing or intimidating subject line, such as tax refund, inherited funds or IRS notice. Usually, the message will state that the recipient needs to provide the IRS with information to obtain the refund or avoid some penalty. The message will instruct the consumer to open an attachment or click on a link in the e-mail. This may lead to an official-looking form to be filled out online or send the taxpayer to a seemingly genuine but bogus IRS Web site. The look-alike site will then contain a phony but genuine-looking online form or interactive application that requires the personal and financial information the scammer can use to commit identity theft. 

Alternatively, the clicked link may secretly download malware to the consumer’s computer. Malware is malicious code that can take over the computer’s hard drive, giving the scammer remote access to the computer, or it could look for passwords and other information and send them to the scammer.

Phony Web or Commercial Sites

In many IRS-impersonation scams, the scammer sends the consumer to a phony Web site that mimics the appearance of the genuine IRS Web site, IRS.gov. This allows the scammer to steer victims to phony interactive forms or applications that appear genuine but require the targeted victim to enter personal and financial information that will be used to commit identity theft.  

The official Web site for the Internal Revenue Service is IRS.gov, and all IRS.gov Web page addresses begin with http://www.irs.gov/

In addition to Web sites established by scammers, there are commercial Internet sites that often resemble the authentic IRS site or contain some form of the IRS name in the address but end with a .com, .net, .org or other designation instead of .gov. These sites have no connection to the IRS. Consumers may unknowingly visit these sites when searching the Internet to retrieve tax forms, publications and other information from the IRS.

Frequent or Recent Scams

There are a number of scams that impersonate the IRS. Some of them appear with great frequency, particularly during and right after filing season, and recur annually. Others are new.   

  • Refund Scam — This is the most frequent IRS-impersonation scam seen by the IRS. In this phishing scam, a bogus e-mail claiming to come from the IRS tells the consumer that he or she is eligible to receive a tax refund for a specified amount. It may use the phrase “last annual calculations of your fiscal activity.” To claim the tax refund, the consumer must open an attachment or click on a link contained in the e-mail to access and complete a claim form. The form requires the entry of personal and financial information. Several variations on the refund scam have claimed to come from the Exempt Organizations area of the IRS or the name and signature of a genuine or made-up IRS executive. In reality, taxpayers do not complete a special form to obtain their federal tax refund — refunds are triggered by the tax return they submitted to the IRS.
  • Lottery winnings or cash consignment — These advance fee scam e-mails claim to come from the Treasury Department to notify recipients that they’ll receive millions of dollars in recovered funds or lottery winnings or cash consignment if they provide certain personal information, including phone numbers, via return e-mail. The e-mail may be just the first step in a multi-step scheme, in which the victim is later contacted by telephone or further e-mail and instructed to deposit taxes on the funds or winnings before they can receive any of it. Alternatively, they may be sent a phony check of the funds or winnings and told to deposit it but pay 10 percent in taxes or fees. Thinking that the check must have cleared the bank and is genuine, some people comply. However, the scammers, not the Treasury Department, will get the taxes or fees. In reality, the Treasury Department does not become involved in notification of inheritances or lottery or other winnings.
  • Beneficial Owner Form — This fax-based phishing scam, which generally targets foreign nationals, recurs periodically. It’s based on a genuine IRS form, the W-8BEN, Certificate of Foreign Status of Beneficial Owner for United States Tax Withholding. The scammer, though, invents his or her own number and name for the form. The scammer modifies the form to request passport numbers, information that is often used for account security purposes (such as mother’s maiden name) and similar detailed personal and financial information, and states that the recipient may have to pay additional tax if he or she fails to immediately fax back the completed form. In reality, the real W-8BEN is completed by banks, not individuals.

Other Known Scams

The contents of other IRS-impersonation scams vary but may claim that the recipient will be paid for participating in an online survey or is under investigation or audit. Some scam e-mails have referenced Recovery-related tax provisions, such as Making Work Pay, or solicited for charitable donations to victims of natural disasters. Taxpayers should beware of an e-mail scam that references underreported income and the recipient’s “tax statement,” since clicking on a link or opening an attachment is known to download malware onto the recipient’s computer.

How to Spot a Scam

Many e-mail scams are fairly sophisticated and hard to detect. However, there are signs to watch for, such as an e-mail that:

  •  Requests detailed or an unusual amount of personal and/or financial information, such as name, SSN, bank or credit card account numbers or security-related information, such as mother’s maiden name, either in the e-mail itself or on another site to which a link in the e-mail sends the recipient.
  • Dangles bait to get the recipient to respond to the e-mail, such as mentioning a tax refund or offering to pay the recipient to participate in an IRS survey.
  • Threatens a consequence for not responding to the e-mail, such as additional taxes or blocking access to the recipient’s funds.
  • Gets the Internal Revenue Service or other federal agency names wrong.
  • Uses incorrect grammar or odd phrasing (many of the e-mail scams originate overseas and are written by non-native English speakers).
  • Uses a really long address in any link contained in the e-mail message or one that does not start with the actual IRS Web site address (http://www.irs.gov). The actual link’s address, or url, is revealed by moving the mouse over the link included in the text of the e-mail.

What to Do

Taxpayers who receive a suspicious e-mail claiming to come from the IRS should take the following steps:

  • Avoid opening any attachments to the e-mail, in case they contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
  • Avoid clicking on any links, for the same reason. Alternatively, the links may connect to a phony IRS Web site that appears authentic and then prompts for personal identifiers, bank or credit card account numbers or PINs.
  • Visit the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, to use the “Where’s My Refund?” interactive tool to determine if they are really getting a refund, rather than responding to the e-mail message.
  • Forward the suspicious e-mail or url address to the IRS mailbox phishing@irs.gov, then delete the e-mail from their inbox.

Consumers who believe they are or may be victims of identity theft or other scams may visit the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Web site for identity theft, www.OnGuardOnline.gov, for guidance in what to do. The IRS is one of the sponsors of this site.

More information on IRS-impersonation scams, identity theft and suspicious e-mail is available on IRS.gov.

 

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 08-Jan-2014

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