Federal watchdog report reviewing how well IRS is cracking down on tax scams

Tax schemes can target your money and your sensitive information, even leaving you in legal trouble.

Government officials say these scams should worry all taxpayers. That’s because if people fall for them and can’t pay their taxes, that’s less money going to fund the federal government.

It’s also less money going to the services you might need. The IRS estimates there’s a gap of about half a trillion dollars each year!

Experts say the IRS can recover some of those funds by cracking down on these scams. Some of them are as simple as a phishing email or text. Others are more elaborate attempts to steal your identity.

“Providing personal or financial information that fraudsters can then use to file a tax return so that they can get a refund, not the taxpayer, but the fraudster can do other harm to innocent individuals by use by essentially stealing their identity and through their financial and personal information,” said James McTigue, Jr., the director of tax policy and administration in the strategic issues group at the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In 20-21, the IRS created “The Office of Promoter Investigations” to address these tax scams and the people responsible for them.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report found the agency conducted hundreds of investigations and led to tens of millions of dollars in penalties.

But researchers say this new unit also needs more structure.

“The IRS needs to develop key performance goals, you know, what are they trying to achieve with this new structure? And how will they know if they’ve succeeded? And the IRS is working on that” said McTigue, Jr. “Hopefully within the next several months, they’ll be able to complete work on developing some tangible, measurable goals.”

According to the report, the IRS agrees with the recommendations.

Officials say the agency is already taking some action by making it easier for people to report these tax schemes to the IRS.