IRS Criminal Investigation urges taxpayers to protect themselves this tax season

IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) dedicates 70% of its time and resources to investigating tax crimes that include questionable refund schemes, return preparer fraud, abusive tax schemes, and more. This tax season, CI is cracking down on schemes that victimize U.S. taxpayers.

“Tax crimes surge during filing season because criminals steal unknowing taxpayers’ information, hack into the servers of CPA firms and tax preparation services and victimize unsuspecting taxpayers with the false promise of huge tax refunds,” said Kareem A. Carter of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), Washington, D.C. Field Office. “Our field office special agents, analysts, and professional staff are committed to serving the public by investigating potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code in manner that fosters confidence and compliance in the tax system.”

In fiscal year 2023 alone, IRS Criminal Investigation initiated 1,409 tax crime investigations and identified $5.5 billion in tax fraud. During the last fiscal year, 655 defendants were sentenced for tax crimes.

IRS Criminal Investigation urges U.S. taxpayers to be vigilant this tax season:

–Avoid return preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers or whose fee is a percentage of your tax refund.

–Use a reputable tax professional who signs and enters a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) on your tax return and provides you with a copy of the return for your records.

–Never sign a blank tax form and ensure your refund goes to your account, not your tax preparer’s.

–Protect your personal and financial information. Don’t click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about your tax return or those claiming to be from the IRS. These messages are fraudulent and could contain malware that could compromise your personal information.

–Report fraud to law enforcement. Submit Form 3949-A, Information Referral, if you suspect an individual or a business is committing fraud.

The 2024 Tax Filing Season began January 29, and the deadline to file, pay any tax owed or request an extension to file  for most of the nation is April 15.

The deadline for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts is April 17.

CI is the law enforcement arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. IRS Criminal Investigation special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a nearly 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.