As the new tax season approaches it is important for taxpayers and tax preparers to be extra diligent and aware of possible tax scams. Review IRS.gov for up to date announcements and reports of phishing and scams.

In 2015, scammers emailed taxpayers a counterfeit notice, labeled CP2000. In these notices, taxpayers were being sent a false bill of unpaid taxes related to health insurance coverage. It also used the Affordable Care Act as grounds to request information regarding the individual’s coverage in 2014. The counterfeit CP2000 notice was attached to the email and appeared to be a Department of Revenue letterhead with an Austin, Texas address. The notice had a payment voucher that lists the letter as number 105C and advised those who received it to mail a check made out to “I.R.S.” and send it to the “Austin Processing Center” at a P.O. Box address. The email also offered an online payment option.

A CP2000 is a legitimate notice mailed by the IRS through the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS generates a CP2000 notice through an automated system when a taxpayer’s income reported by a third party (e.g. an employer) does not match the income that a taxpayer reports on their tax return. The notice also provides information to the taxpayer on how to dispute the discrepancy or correct it. Any payments made in regards to an actual CP2000 are made out to the United States Treasury.

The IRS took action when they received numerous reports of this scam by putting out an alert to the public and sent all information about this scam to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation. The IRS is part of a Security Summit initiative in which they team up with state tax authorities, major tax preparer companies, tax software companies, and tax professionals to help fight in the ongoing war against tax fraud and scams and identity theft.

Should this email scam be repeated during for 2016 tax returns or new email scams generated, they can be forwarded to phishing@irs.gov and deleted. And remember, the IRS will never initiate contact by email, text, or social media nor do they threaten lawsuits or imprisonment – these are telltale signs that you are dealing with a scam.