If the IRS is getting serious about collecting unpaid taxes from you, the agency will send you IRS Form 9297 (Summary of Taxpayer Contact). Does this form mean you’re in a lot of trouble with the IRS? Not necessarily, but if you were current with your tax obligations and filing all required tax returns, you probably wouldn’t be getting Form 9297.
The goal of this article is to explain not only why the IRS has sent you this form, but also how it fits into the overall tax collection process and what it can mean for your IRS tax situation. Keep reading to learn more, or contact us at Wiggam Law to get help today.
Why Did the IRS Send Form 9297?
If you received this form, the IRS is trying to gather information from you to determine your ability to pay any tax delinquencies. If the IRS concludes you can pay your back taxes, they can use this information to identify what income or assets you have available to pay.
An IRS revenue officer will usually mail this form to you, and it will list the documents and information you need to provide. However, in some cases, they will ask you questions to complete this form over the phone. Form 9297 will typically ask you to provide copies of various documents relating to your income, assets, debts, and other financial obligations. Commonly requested documents include:
- Form 433-F (Collection Information Statement)
- Form 433-A (Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals)
- Form 433-B (Collection Information Statement for Businesses)
- Your most recent pay stub
- Any documents evidencing sources of income from the last three months.
- Your most recent monthly or quarterly statements from any retirement or investment accounts, like IRAs, 401(k)s, or brokerage accounts
- Bank statements from the past 12 months
- Copies of all vehicle registrations
- Receipts and invoices of any out-of-pocket medical expenses from the last three months
- Your most recent mortgage statements relating to any real estate you own
- Your most recent utility and other service bills (Internet, trash, electricity, gas, mobile phone, etc.)
- Proof that you’ve been making estimated quarterly tax payments (if required, such as if you work as an independent contractor)
In addition to mailing Form 9297, the IRS revenue officer assigned to your case may also call you. This telephone interview could occur before or after you receive Form 9297, depending on what the revenue officer wants to do next with the information provided by Form 9297 or if they need you to clarify or supplement what you’ve already provided them.
You may also see Form 9297 when the IRS wants to meet with you in person. In this situation, you can expect to see Form 9297 accompanying Letter 725-B (Meeting with Taxpayer – Confirmation). This is a notice the IRS sends when they want to schedule an in-person meeting with you. During the meeting, the IRS revenue officer will want to review some of your financial documents. The documents they want to review will be listed on Form 9297.
What to Do After You Receive the 9297 Notice
The bulk of Form 9297 consists of a list of documents and information the revenue officer needs from you. But also located on this form is the due date for providing this information. It’s important to meet this deadline because missing it might mean the IRS takes additional tax collection measures, like seizing assets or placing a lien on them.
If you need more time, the revenue officer will often grant you a one-time extension. If you need another extension or the first extension isn’t enough, you can ask to speak with the revenue officer’s manager or supervisor.
When Does the IRS Send You Form 9297?
The IRS sends you Form 9297 when your case is assigned to a revenue officer and is no longer being handled by the Automated Collection System (ACS). The ACS refers to multiple IRS call centers located across the United States where computer-generated notices get sent out (especially collection notices), and IRS employees answer any questions taxpayers have after getting these notices.
The ACS prioritizes efficiency. The name of this game is for the IRS to churn through as many tax cases as quickly as possible. In a way, you can think of ACS as the IRS throwing spaghetti on a wall (mass mailings of IRS notices) and seeing what sticks (taxpayers respond to the notices by providing necessary information or paying taxes).
What Does an IRS Revenue Officer Do?
IRS revenue officers are unarmed civil employees primarily tasked with contacting taxpayers to collect unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns. Unlike the ACS, which focuses on processing as many tax files as possible, the revenue officer focuses on resolving as many tax cases as possible.
A human being handling a tax case instead of a computer means a more expensive tax collection process for the agency. So, a revenue officer usually steps in if there’s a lot of money at stake and/or the IRS has been unsuccessful in prior methods of tax collection and is now ramping up its efforts. A revenue officer may also get assigned to cases involving taxpayers with a history of tax issues or business taxpayers who are behind on their payroll taxes.
ACS vs. Revenue Officers
As scary as it sounds to have a revenue officer working on your case, it’s not all bad news. You’re now dealing with a human being with intimate knowledge of your case. Not only do they have a deeper understanding of what’s going on, but they’re more motivated to settle your tax issues than a computer or random call center worker.
Often, being assigned a revenue officer leads to more productive discussions about how you can resolve your tax issues with the IRS. But to make the most of these interactions, you should consider seeking the advice of a tax professional. Remember, the revenue officer works for the IRS. The IRS is their top priority. A tax professional works for you to ensure you get the best result possible.
In contrast, if your case is part of the automated collection system and you call in for help, you may have to wait on hold for a while. And when you finally get to speak to a human being, they’re not likely to know much about your case or your financial situation.
In fact, when you start talking to this person, it might be the first time they have seen your file. Cases sent to the IRS ACS are typically among the smaller accounts, often $100,000 or less. Cases dealing with more money or complex cases normally get assigned an IRS revenue officer.
When Form 9297 Means You Need Professional Tax Help
As mentioned earlier, completing the 9297 IRS form is relatively straightforward. You’ll just need to find the requested documents, make copies, and mail them to the IRS. However, there are situations where responding to Form 9297 is a bit more involved.
These situations are usually present if you don’t agree with the IRS’ position that you owe them taxes, you don’t understand why you’re receiving this form, or you have no way to pay the IRS what they claim you owe.
An experienced tax attorney can help by negotiating a way for you to pay back your tax debt over time, have the IRS pause its collection efforts, or convince the IRS to settle your tax debt for less than what you owe. They can also assist you in arguing that you aren’t legally responsible for a particular tax balance in situations where the IRS made a mistake or your spouse should be solely responsible for the tax debt.
Need Help Dealing with an IRS Revenue Officer and Completing Form 9297?
Receiving Form 9297 indicates that the IRS is taking the next step to collect any unpaid taxes from you. This means you could be closer to an IRS tax lien or levy. As stressful as this idea is, you have options.