But people seem to want me to. I often get calls from people telling me they know someone is cheating on their taxes and they want me to report them. First and foremost, I am not the IRS. If you truly believe that someone is cheating on their taxes and you really want to report it, you have to report it directly to the IRS.
I think the main reason that people call me is they’ve called the IRS first and “nothing happened.” That’s quite possible, and here’s why. For one thing, if you really are reporting tax fraud, you need to fill out form 3949 and mail it to: Internal Revenue Service, Fresno, CA 93888.
Here’s a link to get the form on the IRS website.
A phone call won’t do the trick. The IRS wants its paperwork. It has to be the right paperwork and it has to go to the right place.
Second, when completing the form, only answer the questions asked–see the second page of the form for a more detailed explanation of what they’re looking for. Don’t send the IRS anything not specifically asked for. If the IRS is going to build a successful case, they will have to do the work themselves. They have access to an amazing amount of information plus they have the power of subpoena. If they want your evidence, they will ask you for it (but don’t hold your breath.)
Unless you are a crucial witness to the case, you will hear nothing about the audit from the IRS. They won’t even tell you if they perform one. You cannot call them to learn about the audit because the IRS will not be able to tell you anything, it would be a violation of privacy laws. Once you’ve mailed in that form– you’re done. There will never be a phone call thanking you for your assistance. You won’t see the police come and cart the person away. If you’re seeking revenge, you’ll never know if you got it or not.
Here’s another tip: look closely at your motives for reporting the fraud. Are you genuinely trying to report a real tax crime or are you mad at your ex-husband for not paying the child support while buying his new girlfriend a diamond ring? The IRS really does not want to be involved in personal domestic squabbles.
If you are reporting a former spouse, look long and hard at what you’re doing. It’s quite possible that an audit could come back at you. Let’s say you’ve only been divorced for a few months and the IRS performs an audit. If they find that your ex-husband was under-reporting income, they are likely to investigate prior years. If they find that he owes taxes for years that you were married to him, you could be held liable for paying those taxes. Stop and think before you act.
One final thing, if your complaint is that someone claimed your children on his or her return and shouldn’t have, don’t file a 3949 form. Just prepare your return correctly, listing your children as dependents, and mail it in. The IRS will take it from there.