MY VIEW/Bob McDonnell – Stimulating scammers


It sounds like a scam: If you simply file your tax return, in addition to whatever refund you may be owed, the Internal Revenue Service will automatically send you a rebate check. But it is true.
Thanks to a bipartisan economic-stimulus plan passed by Congress and signed by the President, the IRS will send more than 130 million taxpayers a rebate this year. If you are eligible for a payment, all you have to do is file a 2007 tax return and the IRS will do the rest, IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff said.
In most cases, the payment will equal the amount of tax liability on the tax return, with a maximum amount of $600 for individuals and $1,200 for taxpayers who file a joint return. The payment will be sent at some point from early May through the summer, either as a check in the mail or direct deposit to your bank account, depending upon the refund preference indicated on your tax return.
While this good news is true, criminals are lurking. Despite what some scam artists may try to tell you over the phone or Internet, the IRS will not call or e-mail any taxpayers about these rebates nor will the IRS ask for financial information.
In one scam, a caller tells you youre eligible for an advance rebate and you have to provide the scamster with your bank account information to receive the money. The IRS is not giving advance rebates. They do not force taxpayers to use direct deposit. And they do not gather information by phone.
In another version, an e-mail claims to come from the IRS saying youre eligible for a tax rebate or that your tax return will be audited and you need to click on a link and enter personal information to access the rebate. The IRS does not send unsolicited e-mails about tax account matters.
Filing a tax return is the only way to apply for a tax rebate; there is no separate application form. If you receive a scam e-mail or phone call, pass the information along to the IRS by e-mailing:
Consumer protection is an important statutory duty of the Office of the Attorney General, and our staff can help. In an age of increased consumer scams, we all must continue to be educated and vigilant.
Bob McDonnell is Virginia’s attorney general.