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Beware of New Scam Involving Clean Energy Tax Credits

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a warning about a new scam targeting taxpayers through the misrepresentation of clean energy tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Unscrupulous tax return preparers are misleading taxpayers about the eligibility and benefits of these credits, potentially causing significant financial harm.


Understanding the Scam


In this scam, deceitful tax preparers claim to help taxpayers benefit from clean energy credits by misrepresenting the rules. These preparers file tax returns improperly claiming IRA credits, which the taxpayers ultimately cannot use. The scam primarily targets individuals who file Form 1040.


Key Points to Note


  • Transferability Provisions: The IRA allows the purchase of eligible federal income tax credits from clean energy investments to offset a buyer’s tax liability. However, these credits are subject to passive activity rules, meaning they can only offset income from passive activities.

  • Passive Activity Rules: Most taxpayers do not have passive income, and therefore, cannot benefit from these purchased credits. Passive income generally includes earnings from rental properties, limited partnerships, or other activities where the taxpayer is not actively involved.

  • Risk of Non-Compliance: Taxpayers improperly claiming these credits may face compliance actions from the IRS, including repaying the inflated credit with interest and possible penalties.


IRS Commissioner’s Statement


"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 urges taxpayers to be cautious and consult reputable tax professionals before claiming complex credits like those for clean energy.


Recommendations for Taxpayers


  • Consult a Trusted Tax Professional: Before purchasing clean energy credits or claiming related tax benefits, seek advice from a trusted tax professional to ensure eligibility and compliance with tax laws.

  • Understand Passive Activity Rules: Be aware that most individuals do not have passive income and therefore cannot benefit from these credits.

  • Report Fraud: If you suspect abusive tax schemes or tax return preparers, report them using the online Form 14242 or mail/fax it to the IRS Lead Development Center.


Reporting Fraud


To report an abusive tax scheme or preparer:

  • Mail: Internal Revenue Service Lead Development Center Stop MS5040 24000 Avila Road Laguna Niguel, California 92677-3405

  • Fax: 877-477-9135

Taxpayers and professionals can also submit information to the IRS Whistleblower Office for a potential monetary award. For details, refer to Abusive tax schemes and abusive tax return preparers on IRS.gov.


Conclusion

Stay vigilant against scams and ensure you work with reputable tax professionals. The IRS continues to monitor and take action against fraudulent schemes to protect taxpayers.

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