As part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has received a big increase in funding—which has also led to a major hiring spree. Just over half of the $80 billion in new funding was allocated towards “enforcement.”
While the IRS falls short around $600 billion in collection every year, and the increased funding is allocated towards recouping those tax liabilities, some have criticized this spending bill for its potential to unfairly affect low-income taxpayers.
Regardless of the politics, our office is already seeing the effects of the increase in employees. The S.H. Block team is witnessing the ramp up of collection efforts, with an increase in unannounced revenue officer visits. Many of these officers are newly trained and are not necessarily following the same protocols that we’re accustomed to.
If you get a surprise visit from an IRS revenue officer to either your home or your workplace, this means they are escalating their collection efforts toward your delinquent taxes. Even though the visit is a surprise, you should not be surprised to find out that you have a large tax debt or unfiled tax returns. However, being face-to-face with an IRS officer can still be very stressful and alarming.
This is one of the situations where we strongly recommend hiring a tax attorney like S.H. Block, who can communicate with the revenue officer on your behalf and help you set up a manageable payment plan that ends the aggressive collection efforts of the IRS.
What Do IRS Revenue Officers Do?
If you have an unpaid tax liability, aka tax debt, then the IRS has undoubtedly sent you notices in the mail. Perhaps you’ve received phone calls, wage garnishment, and/or levies from the IRS to try to collect on your debt. If the IRS sees you as a collection risk, their next step is to escalate the situation by sending a specialized collection agent to your home or office. This is a highly trained, senior employee of the IRS known as a revenue officer.
An IRS revenue officer is well versed in tax law, investigation, collection techniques, and enforcement procedures. They typically get involved in situations where the taxpayer owes more than $100,000 or has years of unfiled taxes, and is making no attempt to correct the problem.
These officers are different from IRS revenue agents, who are responsible for things like audits. An IRS revenue agent will rarely show up unannounced, they’ll give you advance notice and try to schedule a time to audit your tax filings. Hopefully you will not run into an IRS special agent, who is responsible for criminal investigation into things like tax crime or fraud.
What To Do if an IRS Revenue Officer Shows Up
If you are the recipient of a surprise visit from an IRS revenue officer, there is no need to panic, or to let them take advantage of the element of surprise. Retake control of the situation by following these steps:
- Verify that it is really an IRS agent: Scammers and criminals may impersonate IRS agents, trying to get you to give them immediate payment via cash, prepaid debit card, or gift cards. IRS revenue officers carry two forms of photo ID, including a pocket commission and a government employee ID card.
- Even if they have ID, beware of scams: Revenue officers are supposed to help you understand your tax issues and your payment options. If they demand a specific payment method or threaten you, this is a red flag. Contact the IRS to verify the visit.
- Do not let them in to your home or business: They do not have a legal right to enter your home or business without a warrant or court order. Letting them see what you own may potentially hurt your case – there are no benefits to letting them in. There is a benefit to being polite though, so try to handle the situation gracefully.
- Do not answer any of their questions: In the heat of the moment, you may say something that hurts your case, or worse, incriminates you. You have the right to remain silent, and that is a better option than giving the officer any information about your or your finances. The best thing to say is “I can’t talk to you right now; I need to talk to my attorney first.” You have the right to legal representation, and even if you choose not to use it, this will buy you some time to make a plan. This is the revenue officer that has been assigned to your case, and they will not give up after one visit, so again—being polite will give them the sense that you are a cooperative taxpayer.
- Get copies of any paperwork they have: Get a copy of the business card with the officer’s contact information. You should also request the paperwork they brought along that pertains to your case. If you are not home at the time of the visit, they should leave this paperwork along with a Field Contact Letter that informs you of the reason for their visit.
- Contact a tax attorney for help: A tax attorney will gather information about your case, from back taxes to business tax obligations, and form a strategy for resolving your tax issue. They will communicate with the IRS on your behalf, in a way that does not harm your case.
These steps may give the impression that visits to a taxpayer’s home or business is a scary situation. Fortunately, many revenue officers are friendly and reasonable, and should treat you with respect (and respect your rights). However, some might be very aggressive in their efforts to collect. That is why it is very important to know your rights ahead of time.
Why Should You Hire a Tax Attorney to Handle IRS Revenue Officers?
At S.H. Block, we make sure all our advice is in the best interest of our clients. While there are some situations where you certainly can handle the IRS on your own, we truly believe that this is not one of them. We strongly recommend that you seek legal representation for dealing with an IRS revenue officer.
With an experienced tax attorney on your side, you can get ahead of the revenue officer’s requests. We can help you with filing delinquent tax return, collecting the records they’ll ask for, and filling out forms in preparation for their effort to collect taxes.
IRS revenue officers are judged on their job performance based on how fast they can close cases, so making their job easier will put you on their good side. This may sway them in your favor if they are considering more aggressive tactics like pursuing search warrants, seizing your assets, and/or placing liens and levies on your property. If your business has unpaid taxes, the IRS can seize or freeze your business assets, seriously jeopardizing your ability to keep your business open. This can be a very grave situation, with your livelihood at stake.
S.H. Block has been dealing with revenue officers and other IRS employees for more than 20 years. We know the tax law just as well as they do, but we use our knowledge to defend your rights and your best interests. Our experience has given us insight into what answers they are looking for, and how to find the best solution to address your tax problem. We can help you set up an installment agreement to pay taxes that you owe, or you may qualify for paying a smaller sum via an offer in compromise.
S.H. Block Can Help You with Legal Representation
If a revenue officer contacts you, or you have IRS agent visits, you have a right to legal representation at any time. We know how stressful tax issues are, and how tense you may be when talking to federal employees about your debt and liabilities. If you’d like to let us do the talking for you, we’re here to help.
Our first step is a free, no-strings-attached consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. From there we can give you our honest advice about what your best course of action may be, and let you know how our legal services can help your case. Contact us at (410) 793-1231 or complete this online form to get the process started.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.