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New York State tax department warns of new scam letter

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance is warning taxpayers about fake letters. Credit: NYS Department of Taxation and Finance

State officials are warning New Yorkers about a new scam letter that demands cash from victims and threatens to revoke their driver's licenses or passports if outstanding tax debts are not immediately paid.

The letter, issued by the bogus "Tax Processing Center," says the recipient failed to respond to prior notices and demands full payment by a specific date. 

One fake collection letter provides an 888 number to call to avoid having personal property seized and sold and threatens to revoke the recipient’s state driver's license and U.S. passport.  

“This is a common scam in which the recipient is threatened out of the blue with punitive action unless payment — in this case, $12,444 — is made immediately,” said State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance Michael Schmidt. “In contrast, our department works with taxpayers who have existing tax debt, such as by establishing an installment payment agreement, to resolve the issue."

The tax department, officials said, routinely explains a taxpayer’s right to challenge a bill or notice, offers several ways to pay a debt and never threatens arrest or passport revocation.

Phony collection letters can also be spotted by the absence of a tax department logo, a complete mailing address or website, or an option to respond online, by phone or by mail, officials said.

The tax department urges residents who receive suspicious letters to report the activity to the state by calling 518-451-1566 or by emailing dtfoia@tax.ny.gov.

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