Skip to main content


If You Missed It, Here’s the IRS ‘Dirty Dozen’ Tax Scams List For 2024

The list serves as a reminder to remain vigilant about tax scams not only during tax season, but all year long, the IRS said.

By Melissa Angell, Inc. (TNS)

The IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be aware of its so-called “Dirty Dozen” list.

Each year, the IRS puts out a list that compiles prevalent schemes against taxpayers. The list serves as a reminder to remain vigilant about tax scams not only during tax season, but all year long. Taxpayers should take note, given the uptick in problems seen in recent years: The IRS received 294,138 cases of tax-related identity theft during fiscal year 2023, up from the 92,631 cases seen in FY 2019.

“Scammers are relentless in their attempts to obtain sensitive financial and personal information, and impersonating the IRS remains a favorite tactic,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in an April statement.

The agency added the last two items to this year’s list last week, which wrapped up this year’s campaign.

Without further ado, here is the agency’s 2024 full list.

1. Phishing and smishing

Received an e-mail prompting you to click on a link to nab your tax refund? That’s a phishing scam carried out by a fraudster, as the IRS doesn’t send out links that invite taxpayers to click on them to receive refunds. Taxpayers can receive their refund through direct deposit, paper checks, a prepaid debit card, certain mobile payment apps and even U.S. savings bonds. Be aware, too, of “smishing,” a similar practice transpiring over SMS text messaging.

2. Fake employee retention tax credits

If you’ve been contacted about filing a claim to receive the employee retention tax credit, be leery: You might not actually qualify for it. The credit is geared toward businesses that employed staff during the pandemic. Also, any attempt to file now may be in vain: the agency announced in mid-September that it was pressing pause on processing new claims filed after that date.

3. Assistance in setting up online accounts

Steer clear of anyone attempting to help you create a taxpayer online account on the agency’s webpage. Doing so would require sharing personal information—including your Social Security number—which bad actors can take advantage of. You wouldn’t want someone trying to open up a new credit card in your name.

4. Fake fuel tax credit claims

Similar to fraudulent ERC claims, bad actors may try to entice businesses to file a claim for the fuel tax credit when they don’t qualify for it. The IRS says this credit, which reimburses companies for the tax they pay when buying fuel, is geared toward farms, ranches, and off-highway business use—the latter of which includes using fuel for special equipment like generators.

5. OIC mills

So-called “offer in compromise mills” market themselves toward taxpayers as a solution to settling tax debts. They’ll charge a large fee to do so, but in reality the IRS says that few people qualify for the agency’s tax resolution program.

6. Fake charities

In the aftermath of a natural disaster or another type of hardship, people may feel inclined to donate to charity. But if a group ever tries to pressure you into making a donation ASAP … it may be a scam.

7. Ghost preparers

Be wary of parties that reach out and encourage you to pursue tax credits and other perks that, again, you may not be qualified to tap. These parties typically charge hefty fees associated with tax refunds and, in some cases, steal the refund in full. Then they vanish, like a ghost … hence the name.

8. Turning to social media

You shouldn’t be turning to Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or X (formerly known as Twitter) for your tax advice. Some users on these platforms encourage people to file inaccurate W-2 forms in hopes of obtaining a larger return. The strategy won’t work; the agency verifies payroll with businesses.

9. Spearphishing

While you’re probably aware of phishing, spearphishing is a more sophisticated form that explicitly targets businesses or individuals. Tax businesses should know about the “new client” scam, a spearphishing technique in which bad actors pose as a new client, then contact a tax business with a fraudulent attachment masquerading as a tax return.

10. Faux art deductions

If someone reaches out to buy art at a discounted price, and then says you can donate it for a tax deduction that’s higher than the price you originally paid, run in the other direction. That’s not how claiming deductions on art donations work, the IRS warns.

11. Fake tax avoidance techniques

You might not enjoy paying your taxes, but beware those advertising ways to get out of paying your taxes. In one instance, fraudsters may peddle syndicated conservation easement agreements—in which someone invests in an easement (an easement is the right to use someone’s land for a given purpose, like conservation)—and receives a tax deduction in return. This strategy can inflate a person’s tax deduction, lowering the amount of income that gets taxed. To do so, the fraudster suggests that a taxpayer can deduct an amount higher than what they invested in the easement. But as the IRS warns: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

12. International schemes

If someone’s contacted you to contribute to a foreign retirement account in Malta, or another foreign nation, you might not be reaping the benefits you might think. The IRS recently targeted Malta pension plans, allowing Americans to pool assets into a retirement plan. Those assets may then be sold to a third party for cash and the gains of the sale advertised as tax-free by the way the plan was set up. But in 2021, the U.S. and Malta struck an agreement that limits these plans, and the IRS is cracking down on those that try to exploit them.


(c) 2024 Mansueto Ventures LLC; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.