Each year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publishes a list of tax-related scams, which it calls the “Dirty Dozen.” This year, it provided a “Dirty Dozen” scam series warning taxpayers of such scams.

In IR-2021-135 (June 28, 2021), the IRS rolled out its “Dirty Dozen” list for 2021, warning taxpayers to look out for 12 nefarious schemes and scams. The 2021 list is separated into the following four categories:

  • Pandemic-related scams, such as Economic Impact Payment theft
  • Personal information cons including phishing, ransomware and phone “vishing”
  • Ruses focusing on unsuspecting victims, such as fake charities and senior/immigrant fraud
  • Schemes that persuade taxpayers into unscrupulous actions, such as Offer In Compromise mills and syndicated conservation easements

In IR-2021-137 (June 29, 2021), the IRS advised taxpayers to look out for unexpected schemes in the form of emails, texts, social media messages and phone calls. These phishing scams target taxpayers and tax professionals and can seem legitimate at first glance. For example, emails or phone calls purporting to be from the IRS may request financial information or request that the recipient link to an attachment. Some scams utilize social media and seek to use events like COVID-19 to trick people. Recipients of such unsolicited emails or phone calls can report the actions to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

In IR-2021-141 (June 30, 2021), the IRS shared five scams relating to requests for donations to fake charities, tax scams targeting immigrants and senior citizens, offer in compromise mills, unscrupulous tax return preparers and unemployment insurance fraud.

In IR- 2021-144 (July 1, 2021), the IRS concluded its series by warning taxpayers to watch out for certain transactions and arrangements marketed by promoters.

Prior year information on the “Dirty Dozen” lists can be found here.

Practice Point: Taxpayers and tax professionals need to be vigilant in protecting against tax-related scams and schemes. If you doubt the legitimacy of a contact purporting to be from the IRS, make sure to confirm the identity of the contact with IRS personnel. For example, we recently received an unsolicited email from an irs.gov address and, to ensure the email was legitimate, we reached out to IRS personnel and were able to confirm that the email was legitimate. However, we have had other situations where emails and phone calls purporting to be from the IRS were from third parties with no connection to the government.

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