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Press Release

United States Attorney’s Office and IRS Issue Tips For Avoiding Tax Season Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Washington

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – Each year, taxpayers’ personal information is compromised through phishing scams or by unscrupulous tax preparers. With tax season kicking off on January 24, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”) urge taxpayers to be aware of tax-related fraud.

United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref encouraged all taxpayers to be vigilant as tax season kicks off: “Having a safe, strong community in Eastern Washington includes ensuring that taxpayers are protected from fraud. We will continue to work closely with our colleagues at IRS to ensure not only that all taxpayers pay their fair share, but that no one is taken advantage of by shady preparers or online scams. As tax season begins, I urge all taxpayers in Eastern Washington to file federal taxes timely and to be on the lookout for unsolicited offers that look too good to be true.”

“In the midst of a pandemic that has greatly affected us all, some people see an opportunity to illegally line their own pockets. IRS-CI is continually using all of its resources to protect the public from fraudsters, but there are also things that taxpayers can do this filing season to protect their financial well-being,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS-CI Seattle Field Office. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and IRS-CI are committed to protecting taxpayers from those who seek to cheat the U.S. tax system, and offer the following ten tips to help taxpayers avoid tax season fraud:

1. Choose tax preparers wisely. Look for preparers who are available year-round.

2. Ask tax preparers for their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Numbers (“PTINs”). All paid preparers are required to have these numbers.

3. Do not use ghost preparers. These are preparers who will not sign tax returns they prepare.

4. Do not fall victim to tax preparers’ promises of large refunds. All taxpayers must pay their fair share of taxes.

5. Do not sign blank tax returns. Taxpayers are ultimately responsible for what appears on the tax returns that are filed with the IRS, no matter who prepares them.

6. Make sure that tax refunds are received and deposited into the bank accounts of taxpayers, not tax preparers.

7. Do not take telephone calls from anyone claiming to be the IRS or threatening legal action on behalf of the IRS. The IRS does not make calls like this. Hang up on anyone claiming to be a representative of the IRS.

8. Do not respond to text messages, emails, or social media posts from anyone claiming to be the IRS. These communications may contain malware that can compromise personal information.

9. Do not click links or open attachments in unsolicited emails or text messages about tax returns. These messages are fraudulent.

10. Protect personal and financial information. Never provide this information in response to unsolicited text messages, emails, or social media posts from anyone claiming to be the IRS.

This year’s tax season began on January 24 and continues through April 18 for most taxpayers. U.S. taxpayers are subject to tax on worldwide income from all sources and must report all taxable income and pay taxes according to the Internal Revenue Code.

Taxpayers found to be committing fraud may be subject to penalties including payment of taxes owed plus interest, fines and jail time. In the Eastern District, a tax preparer named Jonathan Schumann was recently sentenced to six months in federal prison for aiding and assisting in the preparation and filing of false income tax returns. Schumann operated a tax return preparation business, J’s Income Tax, out of his residence in Richland, Washington. He prepared false tax returns claiming fraudulent and inflated itemized deductions, including charitable contributions, personal property taxes, and unreimbursed employee business expenses.

For more tips on how to choose tax professionals or file complaints, visit Taxpayers who suspect tax violations by a person or business may file a report with the IRS using Form 3949A, Information Referral. Taxpayers can also report phishing emails to and IRS impersonation scams to

Updated January 28, 2022