5 Ways to Spot an IRS Email Scam Message

A recent article, How to Spot an IRS Email Scam Message by Anita Campbell reports that during the first quarter of the year aka tax season, IRS email scams increase– targeting taxpayers, tax preparers, and small business owners. The scams include bogus phone calls and IRS email scams alleging to be from the IRS but, in reality, they are from a spammer.

Here is how to spot a bogus IRS email scam. Be warned.

  1. An unexpected email from the IRS is a red flag

    It’s important to bear in mind the IRS has stated that it generally does not instigate contact with taxpayers via email to request financial or personal information. This includes any kind of electronic communication, such as texting and social media platforms.

    If information is required from you, the IRS will initiate contact via USPS. It will probably be an official-looking envelope.

  2. Incorrect return address

    A return email address can be forged. Inspect the email header information diligently. Find out who actually sent the message. Remember, it’s not an official IRS communication if it’s not sent from the IRS.gov domain.

  3. Unprofessional format

    It’s not an official IRS message if you can see several typos, errors odd spacing and/or multiple fonts. If the email is in anyway messy, unprofessional looking or has misspelled words it is a fake.

  4. Incorrect or vague phrases

    The IRS is generally accurate about things like IRS form numbers, tax return processes and tax code sections. For example, phrases such as “tax payout” are not standard phrases for the IRS.  “Tax refund” should be used instead. Anything that sounds unfamiliar is probably unfamiliar for a reason!

  5. Asking for confidential information

    Almost always, the point of these spam emails is to get you to reveal confidential information. They are trying to get you to click on links in the email that will take you to a page that you believe is the IRS website, but is instead a bogus page designed to collect your valuable information. Sometimes, the intent is just malicious and they are trying to get you to download and install malware or a computer virus without your knowledge or consent on your computer.


These emails are known as IRS phishing emails. Beware and keep informed! Don’t dare click on a link or download/ open any attachment in a suspect IRS message. Just forward the suspected spam message to [email protected].

Remember, during tax season you can avoid the stress by seeking out a CPA to help you with all your tax matters and needs.