NOBODY LIKES a call from the taxman. Donald Rumsfeld, who as America’s defence secretary oversaw a budget bigger than the economy of a typical country, nonetheless finds the rules so confusing that he writes to the Internal Revenue Service each year complaining that he has “no idea” whether he has filed his taxes correctly. So it is hardly surprising that, when the phone rings and an official-sounding voice says you have underpaid your taxes and will be connected to an adviser to pay the balance, ordinary folk tremble.

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It is, however, invariably a scam. Few tax authorities call individuals about their taxes. If you are lucky, they will send you a letter a year later, to the wrong address. They will certainly not menace you, as bogus calls often do, with the threat of arrest if you do not stump up the…

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