Published July 24, 2023 – We are pleased to share the recent major policy change announced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of its larger transformation effort. The new policy will put an end to most unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers. This move aims to reduce public confusion and enhance safety measures for both taxpayers and IRS employees.
Change to Decades-old Policy
For decades, IRS revenue officers, the unarmed agency employees responsible for visiting households and businesses to help taxpayers resolve their tax-related issues, have been conducting unannounced visits. However, effective immediately, this practice will cease, except in a few unique circumstances. Instead, taxpayers will receive mailed letters to schedule meetings, providing them with more certainty and preparation.
The decision to implement this policy change comes after the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last year and the creation of the new IRS Strategic Operating Plan in April. Commissioner Danny Werfel expressed that this change is a common-sense step and aligns with their commitment to better serve taxpayers and the nation. By putting an end to unannounced visits, the IRS aims to increase confidence in its tax administration work and improve safety for all parties involved.
NTEU Supports Policy Change
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) has voiced its support for the policy change, emphasizing the paramount importance of IRS employee safety. Tony Reardon, National President of NTEU, applauded Commissioner Werfel’s quick action in response to the safety concerns raised by the union’s leaders and IRS Field Collection employees. False and inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce has made the jobs of IRS employees more dangerous in recent years, and this policy change is seen as a positive step to protect their safety.
One of the factors influencing this policy change is the increasing security concerns from multiple fronts. The rise in scam artists impersonating IRS agents has caused confusion among taxpayers, leading to potential risks for both taxpayers and local law enforcement when dealing with unannounced visits. For IRS revenue officers, these visits also posed hazards and uncertainty, adding stress to an already challenging task of resolving delinquent tax matters.
With funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS is focusing on improving tax administration work, including adding more staffing for compliance efforts. The agency’s emphasis on key areas, such as high-income taxpayers with tax issues, and the use of improved analytics will enable them to concentrate on those with the most serious tax concerns. By doing so, the IRS believes it can successfully collect revenue without the need for unannounced visits, benefitting both taxpayers and IRS employees.
Appointment Letters & Meetings
Under the new policy, taxpayers whose cases are assigned to a revenue officer will receive appointment letters, known as 725-B, to schedule face-to-face meetings. This change aims to help taxpayers feel more prepared and bring the necessary information and documents to the meetings, facilitating quicker resolution of their cases and eliminating the burden of multiple future meetings.
While most unannounced visits will end, the IRS clarified that there will still be extremely limited situations where such visits will occur. These instances include service of summonses and subpoenas, as well as sensitive enforcement activities involving the seizure of assets that are at risk of being placed beyond the government’s reach. However, these occurrences are expected to be rare, numbering less than a few hundred each year, compared to the tens of thousands of unannounced visits that used to take place annually.
As part of the IRS Strategic Operating Plan unveiled in April, these changes signify the agency’s commitment to transforming its operations over the next ten years. With the funding available from the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS aims to improve taxpayer service, enhance fairness in tax compliance efforts, and modernize technology to better serve taxpayers, tax professionals, and the nation.
The IRS’s decision to end most unannounced visits to taxpayers is a step in the right direction to reduce confusion and enhance safety. By replacing unannounced visits with mailed appointment letters, taxpayers will have more certainty and be better prepared for their meetings with revenue officers. Moreover, the limited situations where unannounced visits may still occur will help address specific enforcement needs while minimizing potential risks. As the IRS continues its transformation efforts, it remains committed to serving taxpayers and ensuring a fair and efficient tax administration system.