By Michael Cohn May 03, 2023, 5:49 p.m. EDT1 Min Read
A group of senators on both sides of the aisle is asking the Internal Revenue Service's new commissioner, Daniel Werfel, to warn taxpayers and tax professionals about the emerging threat of tax scams produced by artificial intelligence programs and chatbots like ChatGPT.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, sent a letter Monday to Werfel expressing growing alarm about the possible use of AI tools to create persuasive, tailored scams to steal money from taxpayers and elicit their personal financial information.
They urged the IRS to educate taxpayers and tax pros about the existence of AI-generated tax scams and how to avoid becoming a victim. They also asked whether the IRS anticipates that such scams will become more commonplace and how they might evolve over time.
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"In previous tax filing seasons, many scam messages could be identified by spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and inaccurate references to the Tax Code," the senators wrote. "By contrast, tax scams generated by new AI tools are professionally composed and specifically tailored to trick vulnerable taxpayers."
Given the emerging threat to taxpayers, the lawmakers urged the IRS to use all the tools at its disposal to counter AI-generated tax scams.
"According to recent reporting, one cybersecurity expert demonstrated how ChatGPT can be used to generate scam messages from the IRS targeting families, older Americans, and small businesses," the letter continued. "For example, ChatGPT generated a fake email from the IRS claiming that, in order to receive a $1,450 tax refund, an individual needed to respond with personal financial information."
Even as the request went out to Werfel this week, the Biden administration and Republicans in Congress are facing a debt limit showdown, after House Republicans passed legislation last week that would lift the debt ceiling only in return for spending cuts, including the repeal of much of the $80 billion in extra funding provided to the IRS in last year's Inflation Reduction Act for increased tax enforcement.
The IRS has long warned taxpayers and tax professionals about new and emerging email scams, especially during tax season. This year, the IRS included "phishing" (through email) and "smishing" (through text message) on its annual Dirty Dozen tax scams list .