Compiled annually, the Dirty Dozen lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers can encounter anytime. The IRS warns taxpayers, tax professionals and financial institutions to beware of these scams. This year’s list is divided into five groups. Here’s an overview of the top twelve tax scams of 2022.
Potentially abusive arrangements
The 2022 Dirty Dozen begins with four transactions that are wrongfully promoted and will likely attract additional agency compliance efforts in the future. Those four abusive transactions involve charitable remainder annuity trusts, Maltese individual retirement arrangements, foreign captive insurance, and monetized installment sales.
This IRS reminds taxpayers that criminals still use the COVID-19 pandemic to steal people’s money and identity with phishing emails, social media posts, phone calls, and text messages.
All these efforts can lead to sensitive personal information being stolen, and scammers using this to try filing a fraudulent tax return as well as harming victims in other ways. Some of the scams people should continue to be on the lookout for include Economic Impact Payment and tax refund scams, unemployment fraud leading to inaccurate taxpayer 1099-Gs, fake employment offers on social media, and fake charities that steal taxpayers’ money.
Offer in Compromise “mills”
Offer in Compromise or OIC “mills,” make outlandish claims, usually in local advertising, about how they can settle a person’s tax debt for pennies on the dollar. Often, the reality is that taxpayers pay the OIC mill a fee to get the same deal they could have gotten on their own by working directly with the IRS. These “mills” are a problem all year long, but they tend to be more visible right after the filing season ends and taxpayers are trying to resolve their tax issues perhaps after receiving a balance due notice in the mail.
Every form of suspicious communication is designed to trick, surprise, or scare someone into responding before thinking. Criminals use a variety of communications to lure potential victims. The IRS warns taxpayers to be on the lookout for suspicious activity across four common forms of communication: email, social media, telephone, and text messages. Victims are tricked into providing sensitive personal financial information, money, or other information. This information can be used to file false tax returns and tap into financial accounts, among other schemes.
Spear phishing attacks
Spear phishing scams target individuals or groups. Criminals try to steal client data and tax preparers’ identities to file fraudulent tax returns for refunds. Spear phishing can be tailored to attack any type of business or organization, so everyone needs to be skeptical of emails requesting financial or personal information.
A recent spear phishing email used the IRS logo and a variety of subject lines such as “Action Required: Your account has now been put on hold” to steal tax professionals’ software preparation credentials. The scam email contains a link that if clicked will send users to a website that shows the logos of several popular tax software preparation providers. Clicking on one of these logos will prompt a request for tax preparer account credentials. The IRS warns tax pros not to respond or take any of the steps outlined in the email. The IRS has observed similar spear phishing emails claiming to be from “tax preparation application providers.”
The list is not a legal document or a literal listing of agency enforcement priorities. It is designed to raise awareness among a variety of audiences that may not always be aware of developments involving tax administration.