How does the IRS contact taxpayers?

Knowing how the IRS contacts taxpayers will help you avoid becoming a victim of scammers who pretend to be from the IRS with a goal of stealing personal information.


Here are some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers:

  • The IRS doesn't normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email.

  • The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media.

  • The IRS generally first contacts people by mail - not by phone - about unpaid taxes.

  • The IRS may attempt to reach you by telephone, but will not insist on payment using an iTunes card, gift card, prepaid debit card, money order, or wire transfer.

  • The IRS will never request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media.

  • When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail, and in some cases will claim they already notified a taxpayer by U.S. mail.

  • Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. In some instances, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always.

  • IRS revenue agents or tax compliance officers may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.

  • Private debt collectors under contract with the IRS can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities, but only after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice.

  • IRS revenue officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS revenue officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.

  • When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayers should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.

 

If you receive a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, take the following action:

  • If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, just hang up and call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. IRS employees can help you with your payment questions.

  • If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation Scam” form on

  • The Tax Inspector General for Tax Administration, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 1-800-366-4484.

  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments in your complaint.