Beware the Email Tax Scam
A warning about a new phishing scam targeting taxpayers
For the past several weeks my inbox has been deluged with emails from various sources all claiming that my federal tax deposit made online at Electronic Federal Tax Payment System -- or EFTPS -- has been rejected by the IRS. Some indicate that my "company code" was entered incorrectly. Others claim (along with numerous misspellings and grammatical errors) that the IRS could not process the payment because it was made on a holiday. Like that would ever stop the IRS from processing a payment.
The first email arrived the day after my assistant made a federal tax deposit of payroll taxes. It makes me wonder if the scammers have access to the IRS website; do they know who is using it and when? Or was it just coincidence?
In the email I was directed to what appears to be an IRS website. I did not go there. They would have probably asked me to re-enter all of my valuable financial information. You know what’s coming next, don't you? Yep, identity theft or at least a funneling of my funds to the scammer's untraceable overseas account.
Please know that the IRS does not send official communications to taxpayers via e-mail. It just isn't done that way. If you receive one of these email scams, forward the email in question to email@example.com. I have jammed their inbox with probably four dozen tax scam emails over the past month -- all from different sources, all claiming similar problems with the processing of my tax payment. If you forward a suspicious email to the IRS, you will receive an email response from the IRS thanking you for sending the information to them, but otherwise you won't hear the outcome.
If you are registered to make your various federal tax payments online, you will see this banner across the home page:
Remember: EFTPS values your privacy and security and will never attempt to contact you via email. If you ever receive an email that claims to be from EFTPS or from a sender you do not recognize that mentions a payment made through EFTPS, forward the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
Below is a scam e-mail I received recently. Notice the brazen disclaimer at the end.
Notification: Your Federal Tax Payment has been rejected. The problem is that system doesn't process your company ID on holidays and we movied [sic] your tax payment batch to awaiting [sic] list. Status of your Tax Payment is Under Review.
To get more details about your company status and tax payment batch file, go to
Also forward information to your accountant adviser.
You are using an Official United States Government System, which may be used only for authorized purposes. Unauthorized modification of any information stored on this system may result in criminal prosecution. The Government may monitor and audit the usage of this system, and all persons are hereby notified that the use of this system constitutes consent to such monitoring and auditing. Unauthorized attempts to upload information and/or change information on this web site are strictly prohibited and are subject to prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001 and 1030.
After I forwarded this e-mail to the IRS, I received the following from them (this is the only time you will get email from them -- aside from their newsletter if you subscribe to it).
This is an automatic reply from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Online Fraud Detection and Prevention (OFDP) team. We have received your report of possible phishing or fraud. Although we review and investigate each e-mail we receive, due to the number of incident complaints, we cannot guarantee a personal response to your message.
Please note that the IRS does not contact individuals by e-mail.
Therefore, if you received an e-mail claiming to be from the IRS it is a phishing attempt and should be reported to us.
Additional information on IRS phishing can be viewed here:
Additional information on avoiding phishing scams can be viewed here:
The IRS values your report, and encourages individuals to report future IRS phishing/fraud to email@example.com so that we can handle these incidents and limit the number of possible victims. To limit e-mail volume, you will only receive one auto-response per day for any of your submissions.
Thank you for your report.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Online Fraud Detection and Prevention (OFDP) firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, this will be the only time you receive an email from the IRS. They will not contact you via email about any official business regarding payments, audits or problems associated with your tax return. All official communications are sent using snail mail, and they issue tons of snail mail every day. The IRS could be the ones who keep the postal service up and running.
Bonnie Lee is the founder of Taxpertise located in Sonoma, Calif., a firm providing bookkeeping, payroll services, QuickBooks Training, income tax preparation and tax problem resolution including audits, offers in compromise and other representation issues. She is also the author of Taxpertise: The Complete Book of Dirty Little Secrets and Tax Deductions for Small Business the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know (Entrepreneur Press, 2009).