Pop quiz: what is the difference between an IRS Special Agent, an IRS Revenue Officer, and an IRS Revenue Agent? The distinctions between these roles make a difference when you are dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Recently, the IRS announced it is ending unannounced visits by Revenue Officers. According to the job description, Revenue Officers are focused on the filing of delinquent tax returns and collecting overdue tax debt. In other words, the “taxman” of old.
Revenue Officers are responsible for in-person interviews with taxpayers to evaluate their ability to pay, collect taxes due, or set up alternative means of payment, such as payment plans. Revenue Officers can also make recommendations about financial hardship that could result in temporary or permanent relief from overdue taxes. At present, the IRS has about 2,300 Revenue Officers. Going forward, Revenue Officers will arrange telephone calls and in-person meetings with taxpayers ahead of time--instead of showing up unannounced at places of business or residence.
Revenue Agents can best be considered as highly trained auditors who schedule and conduct mostly in-person audits at the home or place of business of a taxpayer. While Revenue Officers are tax collectors, Revenue Agents are generally experienced investigators—audit specialists. Agents are generally required to have educational minimums and some have specialties in highly complex areas of business, whereas other Revenue Agents may focus on non-profit organizations, offshore tax, or trusts. As these types of audits are more complicated, Revenue Agents can generally be found where the records are—which will be a home office or place of business. Like Revenue Offices, Revenue Agents schedule ahead with taxpayers, as audits can be lengthy and require extensive access to business or personal records.
IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents (IRS: CI) are qualified federal law enforcement agents who are attached to cases involving tax crimes such as money laundering, Bank Secrecy Laws, and tax evasion. Unlike Revenue Officers or Revenue Agents, IRS: CI agents carry sidearms. The recent termination of unannounced visits from the IRS does not apply to IRS: CI agents. According to the IRS, there are approximately 2,100 IRS: CI agents working on matters internationally and in the U.S.
Ask for identification when working with the IRS
If you have scheduled an appointment with a Revenue Officer or Agent, you have the right to request valid identification. Ask for official identification which includes a photograph and serial number.n If you have the misfortune to meet up with an IRS: CI agent, they will present their identification at the outset.
With any IRS investigative personnel, it is always a good call to reach out to an experienced criminal tax attorney before answering any questions or providing further information that may compromise future defense efforts.
Knowledgeable tax attorneys help you with tax controversy and IRS criminal investigations
The legal team at Robert J. Fedor, Esq., LLC delivers experienced legal representation to clients throughout the U.S. and abroad on matters of offshore tax, compliance, or IRS criminal or civil audits. When you have tax questions, call us at 800-579-0997 or contact us. We have offices in Cleveland and Chicago.