The IRS collects a substantial amount of money every year from tax filings. In 2015, the IRS collected $3.3 trillion. Unsurprisingly, many individuals have figured out that if they can capture a small fraction of that sum, they can become fabulously wealthy. There are a wide variety of tax fraud schemes that involve everything from skimming money from legitimate tax returns to stealing taxpayers identities and filing a fake tax return and receiving a refund before the real taxpayer files.
Tax fraud of this type has often targeted individual taxpayers or a limited group of individuals. But in the last few years, there has been a growth of more widespread and organized scams. These typically involve phone calls made to taxpayers, often threatening imminent criminal prosecution for failure to pay delinquent taxes.
A raid in India this week uncovered the largest and most sophisticated iteration of this scam yet seen. Hundreds of workers in a call center were arrested in Mumbai, where they apparently posed as employees of the IRS and Treasury Department. The call center had been operating for at least a year or more and was estimated to have obtained millions of dollars in fraudulent payments extorted from U.S. taxpayers.
The IRS has been fighting the growing popularity of this scams, but the promise of easy money has led to these industrialized schemes. Indian officials are investigating about 700 individuals from the facility. Police there stated they have also removed more than 800 hard drives with recorded phone calls, which may aid in the investigation of the scam and may provide additional clues as to how to discover these sorts of operations.
Remember, the IRS will never call you for an initial inquiry regarding delinquent or back taxes. The will send a letter and if you have doubts as to the authenticity of the communication, you can contact the IRS directly to ascertain the validity of the contact.
And the IRS will not demand payment while you remain on the phone in gift cards of any kind.