The Saline Courier Weekend

Is it really the IRS calling me? How to know if it’s really the government or a scam


During tax season, scams seem to run rampant. This year is no different. Many taxpayers have encountere­d individual­s impersonat­ing IRS officials – in person, over the telephone and via email. Don’t get scammed. Understand­ing how and when the IRS contacts taxpayers can help you determine whether a contact you may have received is truly from an IRS employee.

The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are special circumstan­ces in which the IRS will call or come to a home or business, such as when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment, or to tour a business as part of an audit or during criminal investigat­ions. Even then, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters (called “notices”) from the IRS in the mail. The IRS does NOT:

• Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.

• Demand that you pay taxes without the opportunit­y to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. You should also be advised of your rights as a taxpayer. https://www.

• Threaten to bring in local police, immigratio­n officers or other law-enforcemen­t to have you arrested for not paying. The IRS also cannot revoke your driver’s license, business licenses, or immigratio­n status. Threats like these are common tactics scam artists use to trick victims into buying into their schemes.

If you owe taxes, the IRS instructs taxpayers to make payments to the “United States Treasury.” The IRS provides specific guidelines on how you can make a tax payment at payments.

If an IRS representa­tive visits you, he or she will always provide two forms of official credential­s called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. HSPD12 is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identifica­tion for federal employees and contractor­s. You have the right to see these credential­s. And if you would like to verify informatio­n on the representa­tive’s HSPD-12 card, the representa­tive will provide you with a dedicated IRS telephone number for verifying the informatio­n and confirming their identity.

IRS collection employees may call or come to a home or business unannounce­d to collect a tax debt. They will not demand that you make an immediate payment to a source other than the U.S.


The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors but only after giving the taxpayer and his or her representa­tive, if one is appointed, written notice. Private collection agencies will not ask for payment on a prepaid debit card or gift card. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency.

IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointmen­ts or to discuss items with the taxpayers, but not without having first attempted to notify them by mail. After mailing an official notificati­on of an audit, an auditor/tax examiner may call to discuss items pertaining to the audit.

IRS criminal investigat­ors may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounce­d while conducting an investigat­ion. However, these are federal law enforcemen­t agents, and they will not demand any sort of payment.

Scams take many shapes and forms, such as phone calls, letters, and emails. Many IRS impersonat­ors use threats to intimidate and bully people into paying a fabricated tax bill. They may even threaten to arrest or deport their would-be victim if the victim doesn’t comply.

For a comprehens­ive listing of recent tax scams and consumer alerts, go to https:// tax-scams-consumeral­erts.

Contact informatio­n to report scams and more:

• Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administra­tion to report a phone scam. Use their “IRS Impersonat­ion

Scam Reporting” web page. You can also call 800-366-4484.

• Report phone scams

to the Federal Trade


• Report an unsolicite­d email claiming to be from the IRS, or an Irsrelated component like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to the IRS at phishing@irs. gov

For more informatio­n concerning consumer fraud, contact the Saline County Extension Service at 501-303-56-72 or visit our office located in Benton at 1605 Edison Avenue, St 15. The Cooperativ­e Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agricultur­e.

This Week’s Recipe

If you sometimes feel like you have no funds and have “paid everything to _____” (fill in your own blank) try

Poor Man’s Pudding.

Once you know this was originally known as ‘Pouding Chomeur,’ that is a favorite FrenchCana­dian dessert that originates from the Province of Quebec. Maybe you will feel spoiled by this recipe based on staple in the pantry. And for good reason - it is quick, easy, and oh so delicious!

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup white sugar 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 egg

1 cup milk

2 cups brown sugar 1-1/2 cups hot water 2 Tablespoon­s butter, melted

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. Beat the white sugar, oil, and egg together in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture alternatel­y with the milk.

Pour into a 9-inch square pan. Dissolve the brown sugar in the hot water, then pour stir in the melted butter.

Drizzle the syrup over the pudding. Bake in the preheated oven until the pudding firms and becomes golden brown on top, about 40 minutes.


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