The IRS recently announced a major policy change that it will end most unannounced revenue officer visits to taxpayers.
This announcement is being picked up by all the major news outlets, but as is usually the case, it lacks context. Here is what you need to know.
The IRS has revenue agents, revenue officers, and criminal investigation employees.
Revenue agents. Revenue agents are the auditors. The ones that review your tax return. This announcement does not impact their activities. And rarely do they visit unannounced. Most audit activity is now done via the mail and is commonly referred to as a correspondence audit.
Revenue officers. This group is responsible for collections of tax debt. Most smaller debts are often handled by collection agencies. The debts handled by revenue officers are typically in excess of $100,000.
Criminal investigation agents. This group within the IRS is the only group that can carry weapons and you can think of them as one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. They are usually investigating criminal activity.
The recent announcement only refers to revenue officers. The reason for the change is two-fold.
- Unannounced visits to collect a tax debt is putting IRS employees at risk. They are unarmed and can walk into uncertain situations that are truly unsafe.
- IRS scams are an increasing problem. If you know the IRS will not show up unannounced, you can be more certain that when someone does show up claiming to be from the IRS, it is probably a scam.
If you are ever contacted by the IRS either by phone, mail or in person, your first call should be to ask for professional help. This is the best way to avoid scams and ensure resolution to any outstanding problem does not increase your tax obligation.
— By Nancy J. Ekrem, CPA
DME CPA Group PC
Certified Public Accountants & Business Consultants