IRS Warns Taxpayers of New Scam Involving Clean Energy Tax Credits

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a cautionary alert to taxpayers about a new scam involving the purchase of clean energy tax credits. Unscrupulous tax return preparers are exploiting the complex provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to mislead taxpayers into claiming credits they are not eligible for.

Understanding the Scam

The scam revolves around the IRA’s transferability provisions, which allow for the purchase of certain federal income tax credits from investments in clean energy. These credits can be used to offset a buyer’s tax liability. However, some tax preparers are misrepresenting these rules, leading taxpayers to file returns that claim these credits improperly.

Most affected are individuals filing Form 1040. The fraudulent preparers submit returns where taxpayers claim IRA credits to offset taxes on income sources such as wages, Social Security, and retirement withdrawals. The problem arises because most taxpayers do not have the passive income required to benefit from these purchased credits.

Passive Activity Rules

When purchasing tax credits under the IRA, taxpayers must adhere to passive activity rules. This generally means purchased credits can only offset income tax from passive activities, like rental income or certain business activities where the taxpayer does not materially participate. Most individuals do not have this type of passive income, making the credits unusable for their situation.

“This is another example where scammers are trying to use the complexity of the tax law to entice people into claiming credits they’re not entitled to,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. He urged taxpayers to be cautious of promoters pushing dubious credits and recommended consulting reputable tax professionals.

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Potential Consequences

Taxpayers who improperly claim these credits risk significant consequences. The IRS may take compliance actions against them, requiring repayment of the inflated credit amount, plus interest and possible penalties. This could lead to substantial financial setbacks for those who fall prey to these scams.

Importance of Professional Guidance

The IRS advises taxpayers considering the purchase of clean energy credits to seek advice from trusted tax professionals. It is crucial to determine eligibility for these credits and understand how passive activity rules and other tax code provisions apply to individual tax situations.

Beware of Scams and Protect Your Finances

This warning highlights the ongoing challenges taxpayers face in navigating complex tax laws. Scams like this one exploit the intricacies of tax regulations, creating opportunities for fraud. By understanding the risk and seeking professional help, taxpayers can protect themselves from falling victim to these schemes.

Scams Threaten Trust in Clean Energy and Tax System

If unaddressed, such scams can erode trust in legitimate clean energy initiatives and the tax system itself. Taxpayers may become wary of participating in beneficial programs due to fear of falling into fraudulent traps. Additionally, the financial repercussions for individuals caught in these scams can be severe, deterring future investments in clean energy.

The IRS’s warning serves as a critical reminder to stay vigilant against tax scams. Taxpayers should ensure they consult with reputable tax professionals before claiming any complex credits, particularly those related to clean energy under the IRA. By doing so, they can avoid costly mistakes and contribute to the integrity of the tax system.

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