That sudden tap at your door? Most certainly, it is not an IRS employee. The nation’s tax agency has announced a significant policy shift: revenue officers will no longer make clandestine visits to taxpayers.
According to the IRS, the modification is being made “to reduce public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees.
This is a significant turnaround for the 2,300 IRS Revenue Officers, whose duties include visiting taxpayers to collect delinquent taxes and unfiled tax returns in order to settle their account balances. Despite recent misrepresentations, these visits were conducted by unarmed IRS Revenue Officers.
An IRS Revenue Agent is a tax return auditor; typically, they hold a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related discipline and receive additional tax training from the IRS. They may interact with both individual and business taxpayers.
A Revenue Officer for the IRS is not an auditor; they are primarily concerned with tax collection, including the issuance of liens and levies. Typically, IRS Revenue Officers are responsible for managing significant tax debts. According to Werfel, the average debt an IRS Revenue Officer attempts to collect is $110,000.
IRS Revenue Agents and Revenue Officers are distinct from IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agents, who handle criminal matters. IRS-CI is the United States sixth-largest law enforcement agency.
About 70% of CI’s approximately 3,000 employees are special agents, and only special agents carry firearms. This announcement has no bearing on them.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents federal workers in 34 departments and agencies, including the IRS, backs the proposed policy change.
“NTEU applauds the IRS’s decision to end unannounced visits by IRS Field Collection employees,” stated Tony Reardon, president of NTEU’s national organization.
The safety of IRS employees is of the utmost concern, and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have become more dangerous in recent years due to false, inciting rhetoric about the agency’s workforce.
We applaud Commissioner Werfel’s prompt response to the safety concerns raised by NTEU leaders and IRS Field Collection employees whose safety was jeopardized by hazardous situations. We anticipate collaborating with the IRS on this and other measures to ensure the safety of all IRS employees.”
Clearly, safety is an issue. These unannounced visits to residences and businesses posed risks for IRS Revenue Officers, according to the IRS. The IRS notes that Revenue Officers routinely confront danger and uncertainty when attempting to resolve delinquent tax matters during unannounced visits.
Concerns have also been raised about the cons. As the number of con artists who target taxpayers has increased, so has the confusion surrounding residential visits by IRS Revenue Officers. Sometimes fraudsters impersonate IRS agents, causing confusion among taxpayers and local law enforcement.
This made it difficult for taxpayers to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent IRS representatives. Residents of Floyd County, Georgia, were shocked earlier this year when a man professing to be from the IRS visited their homes.
Several residents contacted the police, and one even sent a video of the alleged IRS employee. Despite the fact that he was in fact from the IRS, residents were nonetheless terrified.
“These visits heightened the apprehension of taxpayers, who were already wary of potential con artists,” said Werfel. “At the same time, the uncertainty surrounding what IRS employees would encounter when visiting these residences also caused stress for them. This is the correct action to take at the right time.”
The modification reflects the continuous evolution of tax administration duties. Werfel remarked that the Inflation Reduction Act’s additional funding would increase personnel for compliance work. As efforts to transform the IRS continue, the IRS continues to prioritize key areas, including high-income taxpayers with tax issues. Improved analytics will also allow the IRS to concentrate its compliance efforts on those with the most severe tax issues.
Continue to view your mail. Instead of unannounced visits, Revenue Officers will contact taxpayers via a 725-B letter containing an appointment. With this letter, taxpayers whose cases have been assigned to a Revenue Officer can schedule face-to-face meetings at a predetermined location with the necessary information and documents in hand to expedite the resolution of their cases.
According to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, “beginning today, it is extremely unlikely” that someone ringing your doorbell is an IRS employee unless you have made an appointment.
Werfel stated, “We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates in order to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and this modification is a logical step. Changing this time-honored practice will increase taxpayer confidence in our tax administration efforts and enhance overall employee and taxpayer safety.”
However, some visits will continue to occur.
The IRS stated that unannounced visits will continue to occur in extremely limited circumstances. These uncommon occurrences include the service of summonses and subpoenas as well as sensitive enforcement activities involving the seizure of assets, particularly those at risk of being placed beyond the government’s reach.
In comparison to the tens of thousands of unannounced visits that occurred under the previous policy, these occurrences typically number fewer than a few hundred per year.
IRS Strategic Business Plan
These modifications were introduced in April as part of the IRS’s Strategic Operating Plan. With 10-year funding from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS has begun transforming the agency to improve taxpayer service, increase the impartiality of tax compliance efforts, and modernize technology to better serve taxpayers, tax professionals, and the nation.
According to Werfel, this policy adjustment will benefit both the IRS and taxpayers. “We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without adding stress through unannounced visits,” Werfel stated. Swindlers posing as IRS employees are the only victims of this policy change.