How to Know if the IRS is Calling

Mobile phone ringing on nightstand. How to know if the IRS is calling.


There has been a rise in recent years of individuals impersonating IRS officials, contacting taxpayers over the phone and via e-mail, threatening garnishments, asset levy, or even jail time. So how do you know when the IRS has contacted you? Fortunately, the IRS has released answers to questions relating to calls and e-mail.

The IRS will not:

  • Call or e-mail demanding immediate payment via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. If you have a payment due to the IRS, payments are made to the United States Treasury to approved addresses and methods listed on the IRS website (
  • Demand payment of taxes without appeal or due process.
  • Use threats of arrests, revoking immigration status, and revoking driver’s or other licenses for non-payment of taxes.
  • Ask you over the phone or e-mail for personal information such as credit card, debit card numbers, or bank account information.

The IRS will:

  • Call taxpayers to set up appointments for audits, call taxpayers for items pertaining to audits or discuss issues related to audits. However, the IRS will mail an official notification of an audit before any calls are made.
  • The IRS criminal investigators will visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced in the process of conducting an investigation. IRS criminal investigators will not ask for payment of taxes.
  • IRS agents will call or come to a home or business unannounced to collect a tax debt. IRS may refer certain collection cases to private debt collectors. IRS agents and private debt collectors will not ask for payment via means other than payments made to the United States Treasury. Taxpayers who owe debts to the IRS would have had sufficient written communication beforehand with the IRS of their balances due.

If you receive a visit from someone claiming to be an agent, they should always provide you with two things: a pocket commission credential and a federal government identification card called an HSPD-12. You have the right to ask for these credentials.

Bullying calls or e-mails from individuals claiming to be from the IRS can be intimidating and the easiest course of action might seem to pay them immediately to get them to go away. Engaging with the scammers or paying them will just lead to additional harassment contacts. If the call seems suspicious, hang up.

Always remember, the IRS does not use e-mail, social media, fax, or other communication methods to initiate contact with a taxpayer. The IRS initiates contact with taxpayers using written correspondence sent via USPS.

Please keep your RINA representative informed of any communication you receive from taxing authorities.

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