Every year, the IRS issues warnings and clarifications on the latest tax scams and trends. Here is the latest info from the IRS Communications and Stakeholder Outreach office in Portland, OR. Be aware, and take steps to protect your organization and people!

Dangerous W-2 Phishing Scam Evolving; Targeting Schools, Restaurants, Hospitals, Tribal Groups and Others

The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry issued an urgent alert today to all employers that the Form W-2 email phishing scam has evolved beyond the corporate world and is spreading to other sectors, including school districts, tribal organizations and nonprofits. In a related development, the W-2 scammers are coupling their efforts to steal employee W-2 information with an older scheme on wire transfers that is victimizing some organizations twice.

“This is one of the most dangerous email phishing scams we’ve seen in a long time. It can result in the large-scale theft of sensitive data that criminals can use to commit various crimes, including filing fraudulent tax returns. We need everyone’s help to turn the tide against this scheme,’’ said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

When employers report W-2 thefts immediately to the IRS, the agency can take steps to help protect employees from tax-related identity theft. Here’s how the scam works: Cybercriminals use various spoofing techniques to disguise an email to make it appear as if it is from an organization executive. The email is sent to an employee in the payroll or human resources departments, requesting a list of all employees and their Forms W-2.  This scam is sometimes referred to as business email compromise (BEC) or business email spoofing (BES).

The W-2 scam, which first appeared last year, is circulating earlier in the tax season and to a broader cross-section of organizations, including school districts, tribal casinos, chain restaurants, temporary staffing agencies, healthcare and shipping and freight. Those businesses that received the scam email last year also are reportedly receiving it again this year.

Security Summit partners warned of this scam’s reappearance last week but have seen an upswing in reports in recent days. See the full article for steps employers can take if they see the W-2 scam.

Organizations receiving a W-2 scam email should forward it to phishing@irs.gov and place “W2 Scam” in the subject line. Organizations that receive the scams or fall victim to them should file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3,) operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. https://www.irs.gov/uac/dangerous-w-2-phishing-scam-evolving-targeting-schools-restaurants-hospitals-tribal-groups-and-others.


IRS Answers Common Early Tax Season Refund Questions and Addresses Surrounding Myths

As millions of people begin filing their tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers about some basic tips to keep in mind about their refunds. During the early parts of the tax season, early filers are anxious to get details about their tax refunds. And in some social media, this can lead to misunderstandings and speculation about refunds. The IRS offers some tips to keep in mind.

Here are the common myths – see the full article for more information on each one.

  • Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed
  • Myth 2: Calling the IRS or My Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date
  • Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date
  • Myth 4: “Where’s My Refund,” Must be Wrong Because There’s No Deposit Date Yet
  • Myth 5: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15

Also see the article for information on the Where’s My Refund? ‎tool and other options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, receive help from a community volunteer. Go to IRS.gov and click on the “Filing” tab for more information. https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/irs-answers-common-early-tax-season-refund-questions-and-addresses-surrounding-myths.


Use IRS Free File Software on Smart Phones or Tablets

The IRS and its private-sector partners who offer their brand-name software products for free now support a new design that allows for the use of desktops, laptops, mobile phones and tablets. You may access the products using mobile devices in two ways: (1) Use the IRS app, IRS2Go, which has a link to the Free File Software Lookup Tool or (2) use the device’s browser to go to www.IRS.gov/freefile and select the “Free File Software Lookup Tool” or “Start Free File Now” to find the software product that matches your situation. The IRS2Go app is available for Android and iOS devices.  https://www.irs.gov/uac/use-your-smart-phone-or-tablet-to-do-your-taxes-with-free-file-software.


Phishing Schemes Lead the IRS “Dirty Dozen” List of Tax Scams for 2017; Remain Tax-Time Threat

The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers to watch out for fake emails or websites looking to steal personal information. These “phishing” schemes continue to be on the annual IRS list of “Dirty Dozen” tax scams for the 2017 filing season.

The IRS saw a big spike in phishing and malware incidents during the 2016 tax season. New and evolving phishing schemes have already been seen this month as scam artists work to confuse taxpayers during filing season. The IRS has already seen email schemes in recent weeks targeting tax professionals, payroll professionals, human resources personnel, schools as well as average taxpayers. https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/phishing-schemes-lead-the-irs-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-2017-remain-tax-time-threat.