It happens to the best of people. They get behind in filing their tax returns or even paying the amounts due. It happens for many reasons, they or a family member was sick or recently died (recent could be 2-3 years ago as we all process grief differently), someone has had drug or alcohol problems, or life just gets in the way.
It is also common for people to ignore IRS notices that show up on their door step, they move and they are no longer forwarded (and they do not update their mailing subscription with the IRS), or they just trash them. When this happens, the IRS will eventually send a local IRS agent called a Revenue Officer to your home or place of business. If no one is home, they will leave a business card. If you answer the door, then ask for the ID, lookup the phone number for the local office of the IRS and verify the person’s identity. Once you have confirmed that, it is suggested that you ask them what they want or are looking for, but do not provide any answers. Tell them that you will discuss it with your tax professional and they will get back to them. Use this method, even if you have not been working with someone and then go find a competent tax professional who can represent you with the IRS.
Why do that? Well, the biggest reason is that you may say something that while it is a true statement, it has no bearing on what they are asking and they can make a mountain out of a molehill. It is always best to hire a professional who knows how to handle the questions and be able to provide what is necesssary.
So, when that person shows up on your door step, please don’t become a victim of some IRS scammer.
People can avoid taking the bait and falling victim to a scam by knowing how and when the IRS does contact a taxpayer in person. This can help someone determine whether an individual is truly an IRS employee.
Here are eight things to know about in-person contacts from the IRS.
- The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
- There are special circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business. This includes:
- when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
- When the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment
- To tour a business as part of an audit
- As part of a criminal investigation
- Revenue officers are IRS employees who work cases that involve an amount owed by a taxpayer or a delinquent tax return. Generally, home or business visits are unannounced.
- IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification. Both forms of ID have serial numbers. Taxpayers can ask to see both IDs.
- The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors. The IRS does this only after giving written notice to the taxpayer and any appointed representative. Private collection agencies will never visit a taxpayer at their home or business.
- The IRS will not ask that a taxpayer makes a payment to anyone other than the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
- IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments, but not without having first notified them by mail. Therefore, by the time the IRS visits a taxpayer at home, the taxpayer would be well aware of the audit.
- IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer’s home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment.
Hope this helps. If you find yourself talking to a REAL IRS Revenue Officer or Revenue Agent, do not hesitate to contact our office to help you!