Students are the latest tax scam target

Students should focus on their studies and ignore phone calls from scammers demanding payment for non-existent taxes. Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

There is no federal student tax.

That’s the official word from the Internal Revenue Service, which is warning students and their parents about this fake tax which is part of yet another telephone tax scam.

“Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike,” says IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students.”

Back-to-school tax scam time

In 2014, the IRS called the scam in which crooks pretend to be IRS employees the largest tax scam ever. It’s been more than 2 years now, and the scam just keeps growing.

In this latest iteration, crooks impersonating IRS agents call students and demand that they wire money immediately to pay the fake federal student tax.

As with other versions of this pervasive telephone scam, the calling criminals become aggressive if the victim resists the payment request.


The tax scammers then typically threaten to report the student to the police, who the crooks falsely say will arrest the victims for not paying the tax.

That’s not going to happen. So that’s one less thing you have to worry about as you settle into your dorm room, learn where on campus your classes are held and get to know your new roommates.

Telephone tax scam red flags

If you ever get a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, the agency says you can be sure it’s a scam if the caller:

  • Demands immediate payment using a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer.
  • Threatens to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Urges you to pay without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount you purportedly owe.
  • Asks for your credit or debit card numbers.

Telephone tax scam responses

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, hang up. Immediately.

Similarly ignore voice mail messages demanding tax payment in order to avoid imminent legal action.

Then let officials know of the call. Reports help Uncle Sam track any changes to the scams and where they are showing up across the country.

Report the tax scam call to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration via its IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page or by calling 800-366-4484.

Also let the Federal Trade Commission know. Report it online using the FTC Complaint Assistant and by including “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes section.

If there is a chance that you might actually owe Uncle Sam any taxes, discuss your bill and payment situation directly with the IRS. You can call the agency toll-free at 800-829-1040. A real IRS employee will answer your call.

Keep an eye on your finances

Anytime you are concerned about your personal information and the possibility it has fallen into criminal hands, monitor your credit reports. You can do so for free by using mybankrate.com.

You also can keep up with tax identity theft news, as well as find filing tips, calculators and more at Bankrate’s Tax Center.

And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @taxtweet.