(Attorney General’s Office Press Release, April 10, 2023)
Boise, ID – Attorney General Raúl Labrador is warning Idaho’s employers about robocalls claiming their businesses qualify for the federal Employee Retention Credit (ERC). The ERC is a refundable tax credit for businesses that paid their employees despite having to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses that incurred a significant decline in gross receipts between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2021, also may qualify for the credit.
“It’s tax season and every year at this time the number of tax scams increase,” Attorney General Labrador said. “I have also received several such scam calls on nearly a daily basis.”
For example, IRS impersonators call or text consumers falsely claiming they owe unpaid taxes or can receive stimulus payments. These are phishing scams designed to steal consumers’ money and identities. Criminals can spoof caller ID numbers to be anywhere in the U.S., including an IRS office.
Ads about the ERC have exploded across all media formats with advertisers claiming businesses can receive $26,000 per employee. In exchange for their advice about the ERC, advertisers charge large upfront fees or contingent fees based on the refund obtained. The ERC, however, has strict requirements that advertisers may not understand or disclose, and a business that improperly claims the ERC may be on the hook for repaying the credit, along with penalties and interest. Employers should talk with their financial advisers or attorneys before claiming the ERC.
Attorney General Labrador advises Idahoans to avoid scams like this by:
- dismissing claims that are too good to be true;
- ignoring calls from unknown numbers;
- hanging up on robocallers;
- researching a business’s reputation through online resources like the BBB;
- consulting with private attorneys and tax professionals;
- educating themselves about emerging scams;
- reporting scams to law enforcement.
Consumers who lose money because of misleading or deceptive business practices should file complaints with the Attorney General’s Office. Complaints may be submitted through the Attorney General’s website at www.ag.idaho.gov. Consumers also can call the Consumer Protection Division at 208-334-2424 or toll free (in Idaho) at 800-432-3545 to request a complaint form.