The IRS is warning taxpayers to beware of new coronavirus related tax scams concerning the forthcoming economic impact payments, also referred to as stimulus payments or rebates. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law late last month, eligible taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of up to $75,000 (or up to $150,000 for married couples filing jointly) will automatically receive an economic impact payment of $1,200 for individuals (or $2,400 for married couples) and $500 for each qualifying child. The amount of the economic impact payment begins to decrease for taxpayers with an AGI above this threshold and phases out completely when a single filer with no children earns more than $99,000/year, or $198,000/year for joint filers with no children.
New phishing attempts
Fraudsters posing as the IRS are reaching out to individuals via email, text messages, phone calls, and even social media requesting personal information or money to complete or speed up the delivery of their economic impact payment. IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig stated: “The IRS isn’t going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information so you can get an economic impact payment or your refund faster. That also applies to surprise emails that appear to be coming from the IRS. Remember, don’t open them or click on attachments or links.”
In the majority of cases, economic impact payments will be deposited directly into the account previously used on the taxpayer’s return. A check will be mailed to the address on file if the IRS does not have a taxpayer’s direct deposit information. Those who have previously filed without disclosing their direct deposit information can provide their banking information to the IRS online beginning in mid-April using a newly designed portal on IRS.gov. Taxpayers should not disclose their banking or direct deposit information for others to put into the secure portal on their behalf.
Seniors and retirees should be especially cautious of coronavirus related tax scams. Retirees who aren’t typically required to file a tax return don’t need to take any action to receive their economic impact payment. Retirees, including recipients of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099, are being reminded that no one from the agency will reach out to them via phone, mail, email, or in-person to ask for any information to complete their economic impact payment.
The IRS stated that scammers are likely to:
- Emphasize the terms “Stimulus Payment” or “Stimulus Check,” while the official term is economic impact payment
- Ask that the taxpayer’s economic impact payment check be signed over to them
- Ask for verification of banking and/or personal information via phone, text, email, or social media for the taxpayer to receive or speed up delivery of their economic impact payment
- Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, possibly in an odd amount, and prompt the taxpayer to verify information online or call a number in order to cash it
- Suggest they can work on the taxpayer’s behalf to get them an economic impact payment or tax refund faster
Report coronavirus related scams
The IRS is encouraging taxpayers not to engage with potential scammers online or over the phone. If you receive unsolicited text messages, emails, or social media attempts to gather information from someone appearing to be from the IRS or a closely linked organization, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov to learn more about reporting suspected scams.
Author: Megan O’Donnell