IRS joins effort to fight charity fraud during international recognition week

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service announced its continued support by joining international efforts to fight fraud during Charity Fraud Awareness Week, October 17-21.

The IRS partners in this effort as part of its ongoing commitment to fight fraud against charities, businesses and individuals. It’s estimated that charitable organizations will lose 5% of their revenue each year to fraud, according to the Fraud Advisory Panel, a UK-based organization leading the effort by organizing this week of awareness. Experts say cybercrime is on the rise, including attacks on charities, their supporters and beneficiaries.

Charities, regulators, agencies, law enforcement and other not-for-profit stakeholders around the world are working together to raise awareness about fraud and cybercrime that affects charities. These efforts resulted in seven days when supporters actively discuss fraud, share best practices and offer helpful resources.

How to verify a charity

“We’d like to thank the Fraud Advisory Panel for reminding donors to remain vigilant,” said IRS Director of Exempt Organizations & Government Entities Rob Malone. “Unfortunately, natural disasters, like Hurricane Ian, provide an opportunity for charity scammers to take advantage of genuine efforts to help. I urge donors to verify a charity’s tax-exempt status at Tax Exempt Organization Search before donating goods, services or money.”

Fake Charities

In addition to cybercrime targeting charities, criminals who create fake charities are also a problem. Fake charities are part of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2022. As noted above, taxpayers should verify legitimate and qualified charities using the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on Donors should never feel pressured to give immediately.

Links to more information

A special website was created for Charity Fraud Awareness Week and features information to help partners, charities and other tax-exempt organizations and non-profits find:

  • Details about the awareness week
  • Free resources
  • A fraud pledge for organizations
  • A listing of webinars and other events

Those encouraged to participate in the week’s activities include:

  • Trustees, staff and volunteers from charities, non-government organizations and non-profits
  • Organizations that represent the interests of non-profits
  • Accountants, auditors and those acting as professional advisors to non-profits
  • Regulators, law enforcement officials and policymakers working to safeguard non-profits

Visit the Fraud Advisory Panel website to learn more about Charity Fraud Awareness Week and how to get involved.

Taxpayers beware: Tax season is prime time for phone scams

With the new tax season starting this week, the IRS reminds taxpayers to be aware that criminals continue to make aggressive calls posing as IRS agents in hopes of stealing taxpayer money or personal information.

Here are some telltale signs of a tax scam along with actions taxpayers can take if they receive a scam call.

The IRS will never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Call unexpectedly about a tax refund.

Taxpayers who receive these phone calls should:

Security Summit warns tax pros to be wary of pandemic-related email schemes

WASHINGTON — In a continuing twist on a common scam, the Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and tax industry today warned tax professionals to beware of evolving phishing scams that use various pandemic-related themes to steal client data.

The Security Summit partners continue to see instances where tax professionals, especially those who engage in remote transactions, have been vulnerable this year to identity thieves posing as potential clients. The criminals then trick practitioners into opening email links or attachments that infect computer systems.

Avoiding phishing emails is the fourth in a five-part series sponsored by the IRS, state tax agencies and the nation’s tax community – working together as the Security Summit – highlighting critical steps tax professionals can take to protect client data. This year’s theme “Boost Security Immunity: Fight Against Identity Theft,” is an effort to urge tax professionals to work to strengthen their systems and protect client data during this pandemic and its aftermath.

“Identity thieves have been relentless in exploiting the pandemic and the resulting economic pain to trick taxpayers and tax professionals to disclose sensitive information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Fighting back against phishing scams requires constant vigilance, and we urge tax pros to take some basic steps to help protect their clients and themselves.”

Phishing emails or SMS/texts (known as “smishing”) attempt to trick the person receiving the message into disclosing personal information such as passwords, bank account numbers, credit card numbers or Social Security numbers. Tax pros are a common target.

Scams may differ in themes, but they generally have two traits:

  • They appear to come from a known or trusted source, such as a colleague, bank, credit card company, cloud storage provider, tax software provider or even the IRS.
  • They tell a story, often with an urgent tone, to trick the receiver into opening a link or attachment.

A specific kind of phishing email is called spear phishing. Rather than the scattershot nature of general phishing emails, scammers take time to identify their victim and craft a more enticing phishing email known as a lure. Scammers often use spear phishing to target tax professionals.

In a reoccurring and very successful scam this year, criminals posed as potential clients, exchanging several emails with tax professionals before following up with an attachment that they claimed was their tax information. This scam was popular as many tax professionals worked remotely and communicated with clients over email versus in-person or over the telephone because of COVID.

Once the tax pro clicks on the URL and/or opens the attachment, malware secretly downloads onto their computers, giving thieves access to passwords to client accounts or remote access to the computers themselves.

Thieves then use this malware known as a remote access trojan (RAT) to take over the tax professional’s office computer systems, identify pending tax returns, complete them and e-file them, changing only the bank account information to steal the refund.

In recent months, international criminals have used a ransomware attack to shut down a variety of companies. Criminals use similar, smaller scale tactics against tax pros. When the unsuspecting tax professional opens a link or attachment, malware attacks the tax pro’s computer system to encrypt files and hold the data for ransom.

These scams highlight the importance of the basic security steps recommended by the Security Summit to protect data.

For example, using the two-factor (2FA) or the multi-factor authentication (MFA) option offered by tax preparation providers or storage providers would protect client accounts even if passwords were inadvertently disclosed. Keeping anti-virus software automatically updated helps prevent scams that target software vulnerabilities. Using drive encryption and regularly backing up files helps stop theft and ransomware attacks.

For tax professionals, securing their network to protect taxpayer data is their responsibility as a tax preparer.

To help tax professionals guard against phishing scams and better protect taxpayer information, the IRS recently updated Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer DataPDF. The July 2021 version contains some of the latest suggestions such as using the multi-factor authentication option offered by tax software products and helping clients get an Identity Protection Pin.

Additional resources

In addition to reviewing the recently revised IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer DataPDF, tax professionals can also get help with security recommendations by reviewing Small Business Information Security: The FundamentalsPDF by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The IRS Identity Theft Central pages for tax pros, individuals and businesses have important details as well.

Publication 5293, Data Security Resource Guide for Tax ProfessionalsPDF, provides a compilation of data theft information available on Also, tax professionals should stay connected to the IRS through subscriptions to e-News for Tax Professionals and Social Media.

For more information, see Boost Security Immunity: Fight Against Identity Theft.

IRS announces job openings to hire over 700 new employees across the country to help taxpayers in person

WASHINGTON — In addition to the more than 4,000 people recently hired to fill critical customer service representative positions, the Internal Revenue Service is now seeking over 700 new employees to help taxpayers at Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country.

“This is an important priority to provide more service at the IRS for the upcoming filing season,” said Ken Corbin, the Service’s Taxpayer Experience Officer and Wage and Investment Commissioner. “We are working to have more than 270 walk-in sites properly staffed to provide the help taxpayers need and deserve. This will be the first time in a decade our walk-in sites will be fully staffed.”

This increase in staffing is part of much wider IRS improvements enabled by the Inflation Reduction Act funding approved in August 2022, and additional updates on the implementation of the landmark 10-year legislation will be provided soon.

IRS employees not only serve the agency but are imperative for the nation’s tax administration, which collects nearly 96% of the nation’s revenue needed to fund nearly all federal government programs. The work we do supports the nation’s most vital initiatives, from homeland security and U.S. defense to Social Security as well as programs and projects including parklands and forests, roads and bridges, libraries, museums, schools and more.

For these 700 openings, the technical positions needed are Individual Taxpayer Advisory Specialists who provide face-to-face assistance in IRS TAC offices and the Initial Assistance Representatives, responsible for greeting and determining the needs of taxpayers visiting TAC offices.

These important positions have highly competitive pay and benefits including on-the-job training, opportunities for advancement, health and life insurance, and a federal retirement.

The IRS also offers a wealth of workplace flexibilities to help employees balance career and home with 11 paid holidays, 13 vacation days and sick leave. Other work/life balance programs include flexible work schedules, the Child Care Subsidy Program, the Employee Assistance Program, health services and paid maternity/paternity leave.

In addition to the face-to-face representatives and phone assistors, the IRS is also working to hire additional people throughout the agency, not just in taxpayer service areas but in Information Technology and compliance positions – all with a goal of improving the work the IRS does.

The IRS is an equal opportunity employer and hires talented and dedicated individuals from many backgrounds. IRS encourages those who are looking for a new opportunity or who are just starting work-life to consider an IRS career.

All employees must be U.S. citizens and pass an FBI fingerprint check and tax compliance verification. Federal experience is not required. The applicant may have gained experience in the public sector, private sector or volunteer service.

Prospective employees are encouraged to attend an upcoming IRS Careers information session to learn more about the position and requirements, how to apply, and all the benefits of federal service.

Register for the hiring information session on November 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern time.

To learn more about these positions, visit USAJOBS. To learn about other open positions at the IRS, go to the IRS Careers page. Also, follow the IRS on LinkedIn and on Twitter @RecruitmentIRS.