Update: As of 2023, the IRS no longer makes unannounced house calls, except in very rare circumstances. Instead, if an IRS employee wants to talk with you in person, they will send a 725-B letter to request a meeting. This blog reflects IRS collection practices from 2021 and earlier.
If you’re a taxpayer or a business owner with a significant, unresolved tax issue – the IRS may be paying you a visit. These in-person meetings are part of a new IRS special compliance campaign focused on high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed their payroll taxes or 2018 tax returns. The visits are aimed at informing the taxpayers about their IRS obligations and helping resolve their compliance issues.
What Prompts the IRS Visit?
An IRS Revenue Officer is a trained civil enforcement employee who works with taxpayers to resolve compliance issues such as missing returns or taxes owed. Typically, the IRS will assign a revenue officer to a taxpayer after the IRS has attempted to contact the taxpayer multiple times through the mail – and has been unable to resolve the tax issue. Some examples of tax issues that could prompt a visit from the revenue officer include:
- If the taxpayer owes more than $250,000;
- If the taxpayer has unfiled tax returns, has been asked to file, and has chosen not to;
- If the taxpayer owes less than $250,000 in taxes, is unwilling to pay those taxes, and the government wants to seize and liquidate the taxpayer’s assets to pay the amount owed; or
- An active business owner who has not filed or paid payroll taxes.
The revenue officers will conduct an interview with the taxpayer in order to gather financial information and provide the taxpayer with a recommended course of action. The officer is also authorized to take lawful and appropriate actions to collect the amount owed. It is important to note here that the revenue officer cannot meet with the taxpayer in person if he or she is represented by a power of attorney.
What Will the Revenue Officer Want to Discuss?
The in-person meeting is designed to educate the taxpayer and, ideally, to resolve the tax issue. They are there to help taxpayers understand their liability, and not to make unlawful threats or demands. The visiting officer will talk to the taxpayer about their financial and legal obligations to the IRS as well as advise the taxpayer about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. If the taxpayer has an outstanding federal tax debt, the officer will request payment and will provide a range of payment options, including a check payable to the US Treasury. If the taxpayer has financial hardships and cannot pay, the revenue officer will likely discuss collection alternatives such as installment agreements, abatement, an offer in compromise, or suspending collection on a “currently not collectible” account.
How Do You Identify a Revenue Officer?
In order to avoid a potential IRS scam, it’s important to be able to identify a revenue officer. To begin, prior to the visit, the IRS will announce that there will be revenue officers working in a community during a specified time. The IRS may send the taxpayer a letter prior to the in-person meeting, requesting certain case information and providing the taxpayer an opportunity to call the IRS. The first face-to-face meeting, however, will likely be unannounced.
When an IRS revenue officer visits a taxpayer, they will have two forms of identification with them: a pocket commission and a federal employee HSPD-12 card. Both of these items will have a photo of the IRS employee and a serial number. Taxpayers have the right to see and/or ask for both of these forms of identification. They can also call the IRS phone number on the HSPD-12 card to verify the officer’s identity, and they can ask for the name and phone number of the revenue officer’s manager.
Have Questions? Call the Experienced Tax Attorneys at Wiggam Law
If you have questions or need help with an unresolved tax issue, please contact the experienced tax attorneys at Wiggam Law. We’ve worked with individuals, businesses, officers, directors, shareholders, and partners in matters before the Internal Revenue Service, the Georgia Department of Revenue, and other state tax departments. Our experienced Atlanta tax attorneys can help you choose the right strategy to resolve your tax issue and help reduce your criminal exposure.