After several years of tight budgets, the IRS recently received a budget increase. This will allow it to reenter geographical areas where it has had to pull most of its physical presence. Staff has been expanding and enforcement efforts are being increased.
One way the IRS hopes to increase tax compliance is by sending revenue officers out to in-person meetings with high-priority taxpayers. These are individuals and businesses with longstanding delinquencies or high-dollar-value accounts.
Revenue officers are civil enforcement staff who not only conduct civil investigations and collect taxes, but who also educate taxpayers on their liabilities. Now, teams of enforcement officers will be sent to areas that have been under-served in the past few years. The in-person visits are meant to supplement other enforcement and collection efforts, such as the agency’s private debt collection program.
Unremitted payroll taxes will be a priority
“In many cases business owners have been withholding large amounts of employment taxes from their employees and not [sending] them over to the Treasury,” an IRS spokesperson told reporters recently. “It’s an extremely high priority. Our efforts are to try to get them into compliance when we meet with them face to face.”
If you owe payroll taxes, it’s unlikely you will receive an in-person visit without being aware of your unpaid tax liability. In almost every case, taxpayers will have been contacted several times by mail and/or phone before an in-person visit is done. The visit itself, however, may be unannounced.
If the IRS shows up at your door, you need to be sure it’s not a scam. The IRS is aware that announcing its plans for in-person visits will provide cover for scam artists who impersonate IRS personnel. The agency wants you to know that its revenue officers always carry two forms of government-issued ID, both of which contain a serial number and a photo of the officer.
It’s true that the revenue officers will attempt to collect the taxes, but they will only ever ask that you pay the U.S. Treasury. They will never, for example, demand or accept gift cards, although they will offer several methods for payment.
If you are visited by an IRS revenue officer, you may want to call your tax attorney before answering any questions.