The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States has made a significant policy shift to improve customer service and reduce taxpayers’ interactions with the agency. Starting immediately, most unannounced in-person visits by IRS revenue officers will be eliminated.
The goal of this change is to transform the IRS into a more efficient tax collector while also combating scammers who claim to be IRS agents and try to extort money. The IRS now primarily initiates contact regarding unpaid taxes or unfiled tax returns through mail correspondence.
Previously, it was common for revenue officers to conduct face-to-face visits to address taxpayers’ questions about their tax matters. However, with a few exceptions, these visits will no longer be part of their responsibilities. Instead, revenue officers will now schedule meetings by sending letters.
In cases where the IRS cannot reach a taxpayer through correspondence, officers can escalate their efforts by using methods such as tax levies and liens on income. These actions can also be carried out remotely, eliminating the need for in-person visits.
Under the previous rules, revenue officers made “tens of thousands” of unannounced visits per year. The median tax debt being pursued during these visits was $110,000, according to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel.
There are only a limited number of exceptions to the new policy. In situations where subpoenas or summonses need to be served, in-person visits may still be required. Additionally, “sensitive enforcement activities involving seizure of assets” may necessitate unannounced visits, especially if the assets could be transferred to avoid government intervention. However, these types of unscheduled visits only occur in “less than a few hundred” cases each year, as stated by the IRS.
Overall, this policy change aims to enhance customer service and reduce unnecessary in-person interactions between taxpayers and the IRS. By relying more on mail correspondence and remote actions, the IRS seeks to create a more efficient and less intimidating experience for taxpayers.
Changes to IRS Procedure Prioritize Safety and Accessibility
In a recent statement, the IRS announced a significant change in their long-standing procedure, emphasizing the importance of taxpayer and employee safety. The alteration aims to enhance confidence in the tax administration process. According to IRS Acting Commissioner Werfel, revenue agents have expressed concerns about their safety during in-person visits.
Thanks to additional funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS has been able to intensify their scrutiny of tax returns submitted by wealthier individuals. Simultaneously, they are actively working towards improving accessibility for most taxpayers.
This policy shift comes at a time when imposter scams are increasingly preying on consumers. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, more than 50,000 scams were reported in the first quarter of 2023. Scammers often impersonate government agents in these fraudulent schemes.
Commissioner Werfel highlighted how these unannounced visits intensified anxiety for taxpayers who were already skeptical of potential scam artists. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the situations that IRS employees encountered during such visits created added stress for them as well. Therefore, Commissioner Werfel firmly believes that ending these visits is the right course of action for both taxpayers and employees.
In conclusion, this change in policy is a notable step towards prioritizing safety and accessibility within the IRS. Commissioner Werfel confidently stated that the only ones who will lose out as a result of this shift are scammers posing as the IRS.