Taxes may be one of life’s constants, but phishing scams are working double time to get added to that infamous list.
When the president signed the $1.9 billion coronavirus relief package into law, millions of Americans were guaranteed a third round of economic impact payments. As with EIP1 and EIP2, the Federal Trade Commission is warning businesses that identity thieves will deploy phishing scams that capitalize on the confusion that inevitably follows the announcement of these payments.
To combat stimulus scammers, it’s important to learn the common signs of EIP phishing scams and the basic qualifying criteria for EIP3.
What are the signs of an EIP phishing scam?
The FTC says that scammers impersonate government representatives in calls, emails, text messages, and social media messages that indicate additional steps are required to qualify for an EIP — and they generally involve payment or personally identifiable information:
- Ask for an upfront qualifying payment
- Ask for private financial information, like “your [SSN], bank account number, or credit card number”
- Ask for alternative payment methods, like a “gift card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer”
To qualify for EIP3, taxpayers must have filed a return showing they meet the valid identification number and adjusted gross income requirements.
How do taxpayers qualify for EIP3?
The first step in qualifying for EIP3 is filing a tax return. Taxpayers need to have filed a return in either 2019 or 2020; the Internal Revenue Service will automatically begin sending payments based on information in the most recently filed return.
Filers must have a valid identification number—in most cases, a Social Security Number—and adjusted gross income determines the amount of the payment.
These are the EIP3 phase-out ranges for each filing status:
- $75,000 – $80,000 for single filers
- $12,500 – $20,000 for heads of household
- $150,000 – $160,000 for married couples filing jointly and qualifying widows and widowers
Normally, both spouses must have a valid SSN when filing a joint return to qualify, but the SSN requirement is partially waived for married active military members filing jointly. In that case, only one of the filing spouses must have a valid SSN to meet the identification number requirement.
Dependents claimed on the return—in this case, children, college students, and certain qualifying adult dependents—must have either a valid SSN or adoption taxpayer identification number.
How much will filers receive from EIP3?
EIP3 is worth up to $1,400 for single filers and heads of household and $2,800 for married couples filing jointly and qualifying widows and widowers. Qualifying filers will also receive up to $1,400 for each qualifying dependent.
Finally, be sure to report suspected tax-related phishing scams to the IRS and FTC:
Source: “Business owners: Scams will follow new rescue plan,” FTC.gov