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Looking for the IRS Site? It's Not IRS.com

irs.com irs.gov irs siteIf you're starting to think about your taxes and searching online for the official site of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, make sure you don't click on IRS.com by mistake.

The IRS, like many U.S. government sites, uses the ".gov" top-level domain name, and can be found at IRS.gov.

But IRS.com isn't affiliated with the government at all, despite the misleading "IRS Tax Center" title in the browser bar and tab. The banner headline on the homepage also suggests an official association: "US Tax Center – Tax Information You Can Trust."At first glance it appeared IRS.com was just another typosquatting scam, a site designed to trick people looking for a real site into clicking on another with a similar domain name and then luring them into some sort of fraud or exposing them to identity theft.

While IRS.com was certainly created to attract the attention of people looking for the official IRS site, it doesn't appear to be a scam, since it's owned by a legitimate company, Banks.com, Inc.

Banks.com describes itself as "a leading financial services portal containing a unique breadth and depth of products and services," and as of Jan. 21 is an accredited Better Business Bureau member with an A+ rating.

But IRS.com, which according to WHOIS was registered in 1999, barely qualifies as a site, and is not even half-finished. The homepage features four sections labeled "Tax Resources," "Government Grants," "If You Owe Back Taxes" and "Copies of Past Tax Returns."

While the two of these sections contain links to "how-to" articles, the other two are completely empty and contain only pointless bullet points without any links at all. A box on the right-hand side of the homepage called "More Tax Topics" also contains no information beyond several unlinked icons.

The San Francisco-based company is also difficult to reach. IRS.com offers only an email form and no phone number. The Banks.com site provides no email address, while the number listed on its contact us page doesn't allow callers to speak with a live person, and automatically dumps all calls into general delivery voicemail box.

Banks.com did not reply to WalletPop's Consumer Ally's emails or voicemails. Should they respond, an update will be posted.

The IRS sent this statement to Consumer Ally:

"There are commercial Internet sites that often resemble the authentic IRS site or contain some form of the IRS name in the address but end with a .com, .net, .org or other designation instead of .gov. These sites have no connection to the IRS. Consumers may unknowingly visit these sites when searching the Internet to retrieve tax forms, publications and other information from the IRS."

So remember, if you're looking for the IRS, the official website is http://www.irs.gov.

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