The IRS or CRA May Contact You – Here’s How It’s Done.

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The IRS or CRA May Contact You – Here’s How It’s Done.


Everyone should know how the IRS if you live in the U.S., or the CRA if you live in Canada,  contacts taxpayers.

IRS - Internal Revenue Service

This will help people avoid becoming a victim of scammers who pretend to be from one of these tax authorities with a goal of stealing personal information.

So let’s start with the IRS. 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.
  • 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 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.

The CRA, Canadian Revenue Agency, does things similarly.

The CRA will not:

  • Ask for information about your passport, health card, or driver’s license request personal information by email.CRA - Canadian Revenue Agency
  • Send you an email link requesting you fill in an online form with personal or financial details send you a link to your refund by email or text message
    setup an in-person meeting in a public place to take a payment
  • Demand immediate payment by prepaid credit card
  • Threaten with immediate arrest or prison sentence

The CRA may:

  • Validate your identity by asking for certain personal information, including your full name, date of birth, your address and, in the case of a business, details about your account
  • Notify you by email when new mail is available for you to view in CRA secure portals such as My Account, My Business Account or Represent a Client
  • Email you a link to a CRA webpage, form, or publication in response to your telephone inquiry
  • Send you a notice of assessment or re-assessment by mail or notify you by email when it is available to view in My Account, My Business Account, or Represent a Client
  • Ask for financial information such as the name of your bank and its location
  • Request payment for a tax debt through any of the CRA’s payment options
  • Take legal action to recover the money you owe if you refuse to pay your debt

Scammers are constantly trying to fool honest taxpayers. Knowing how your tax authority handles necessary contact with you will protect you from thieves trying to steal your tax refund.

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