Increased risk and scammers contributed to the decision that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will discontinue unannounced visits to taxpayers who owe taxes or failed to file tax returns.
Many people receive letters and notices from the IRS. Civil audits are announced via correspondence as are errors on tax returns and other taxpayer notices. In its press release announcing the change, the IRS noted that the IRS has made visits to homes and businesses for decades to discuss and collect unpaid taxes and inquire about tax returns that are not filed.
Overall, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel commented, “We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a common-sense step. Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees."
While improving customer service and looking at overall processes is part of the larger goal of updating the tech and technique of the IRS, the change is also welcome by Treasury employees. The President of the National Treasury Employees Union, Tony Reardon, remarked on the impact of the change on IRS agents, “We applaud Commissioner Werfel's quick action after hearing the safety concerns raised by NTEU leaders and IRS Field Collection employees who faced dangerous situations that put their safety at risk. We look forward to working with the IRS on this and other actions to protect the safety of all IRS employees."
IRS outreach going forward
For the most part, unannounced visits from the IRS will cease. In cases where there is concern about the movement of assets beyond the reach of the government, subpoenas, or summonses, IRS Revenue officers may still arrive unannounced.
For routine business, the IRS will correspond with taxpayers using the 725-B appointment letter to schedule a meeting. In-person meetings will still occur in homes and businesses, but by appointment only.
It is important to note this change applies to the usual business side of the IRS. The agency deploys approximately 2,000 IRS Revenue officers that make many thousands of visits to businesses and individual taxpayers each year. These IRS officers do not carry sidearms. The policy change does not affect the function of IRS: CI, the criminal investigation unit of the IRS. IRS agents working on criminal investigations involving tax fraud or other tax crimes do carry sidearms and will continue to conduct operations as usual with businesses and individual taxpayers of interest.
If you receive an appointment letter from the IRS, or when you have concerns about discrepancies on your corporate or individual tax return—speak with an experienced tax attorney.
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