From now on, if someone comes to your home or place of business, they will highly unlikely be an IRS revenue officer, according to the IRS commissioner, who announced a major change to decades-old compliance enforcement practices. (IR 2023-133)
Effective immediately, the IRS has ended unannounced visits from the tax man, with few limited exceptions, as part of the agency’s larger effort to overhaul its processes using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (PL 117-169).
“This policy change is part of the larger IRS transformation effort taking place under the Inflation Reduction Act,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters on a press call July 24. “We are using our increased resources to work smarter in our compliance work. The change we’re announcing today will end taxpayer confusion about unannounced visits, and it will greatly improve safety overall for everyone involved, the taxpayer as well as our hard-working IRS revenue officers.”
The change, he hopes, will eliminate guesswork for taxpayers concerned if someone at their doorstep claiming to be from the IRS is legitimate, as well as protect employees. “I also learned that these concerns were shared by our partners at the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), who have long advocated for increased safety for IRS employees,” said Werfel. “We appreciate NTEU’s leadership on this issue.”
“The IRS leadership team agrees about the importance of safety. And I do too.”
Tony Reardon, national president of NTEU said in a statement that unannounced on-site visits “have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of the false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce.” Further, the proliferation of scam artists spurs confusion for local law enforcement, the IRS said.
Werfel announced that in lieu of unexpected visits, revenue officers will now instead send taxpayers a 725-B appointment letter to schedule a meeting, allowing taxpayers time to prepare and prevent the need for additional future visitation.
However, in some cases unannounced visits may still be warranted, the IRS clarified. “These rare instances include service of a summons and subpoena,” Werfel explained. “These will also involve sensitive enforcement activities involving seizure of assets, especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of government. But these activities are just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of visits that have taken place in the past.”
For context, he said those situations only apply to a few hundred each year, a “small fraction” compared to the tens of thousands of unannounced visits under the old policy. Werfel stressed that auditors are not the ones making the visits, and revenue agents are unarmed. Should a taxpayer not respond to an appointment letter or other forms of contact, the agency “will continue to take a variety of different steps” that can still be done remotely. This includes liens or levies, when necessary.
Werfel said that the median debt revenue officers seek out is $110,000, which the IRS does not deem to be small tax debts, but in keeping with the themes outlined in its Strategic Operating Plan, the agency is shifting its focus on “high-income taxpayers with tax issues” using “improved analytics” while ensuring “fairness in tax enforcement.”
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