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Danny Werfel’s Cat Is the IRS’s New Social Media Darling

“We have just now started to put my cat Emmett out there as the expert on tax scams,” the IRS chief recently said in a TV interview.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel recently dropped by the studios of NBC10 in Boston to talk about tax scams, the agency’s Direct File tax-filing software, and how the IRS is trying to reach a younger audience via social media. That led to a discussion about Werfel’s cat, Emmett.

Why? “We have just now started to put my cat Emmett out there as the expert on tax scams,” Werfel said during the interview.

Sure enough, a June 7 post on the agency’s Instagram page that warns people about misleading tax information from influencers on social media features the IRS chief’s adorable cat. The post has received 100 likes as of today.

Photo courtesy of the IRS Instagram page.

From NBC10 Boston:

Scroll through the IRS’s Instagram page and you’ll find Emmett the cat. You may be surprised at how colorful and fun it is.

“This is about hitting different generations, of taxpayers,” says Werfel. “How do you talk to them? The way you might talk to a college student, or someone that’s new to the workforce, and trying to teach them about the realities of the tax system…versus different communities of taxpayers, like, the elderly population.”

He used his own family as an example.

“My parents, who are in their 80s, have never used an ATM machine,” he says. “And my children, who are in their 20s, have never been in a brick-and-mortar bank. My children, when they engage, they engage right from their phones or their tablets. That’s how they get their business done. And we need to build an IRS for that generation of taxpayers where everything you can do, can be done, from, from where you are virtually.”

Virtually, Emmett the cat is warning taxpayers about bad tax advice that’s circulating on social media. People submitting false claims to get a huge refund has been a problem this year.

We saw a big spike in returns that were filed with exorbitant tax credits or refunds that people weren’t eligible for,” he says. “If last year your refund was $300 and now someone is telling you they can get you a refund for $30,000, very likely that this is a scam, and you should avoid it because there is no free money.  At the IRS, what we want to do is get you the credits and the refunds you’re entitled to, and we want you to pay what you owe and not a penny more.”

Werfel also said the IRS is also working on a new color-coded flagging system to help combat tax impersonation scams, which would allow taxpayers to go to their online account and quickly see whether the IRS is trying to reach them, according to NBC10 Boston. The agency hopes to have that up and running by next filing season.