Anyone who has tried calling the IRS recently probably did not reach a human being. This ongoing problem worsened not long after the U.S. declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency in March 2020. Even though it is business as usual in many parts of the country, IRS employees are working through a sizable backlog of paperwork and requests.
These frustrations are quite salient for taxpayers whose IRS accounts are currently in dispute. Even taxpayers who have already spoken with their respective IRS agent or officer are having difficulties reaching them. All the while penalties pile up, interest accrues, and taxpayers’ bank accounts are even levied.
There are a number of reasons the revenue officer may not be returning your calls. They could have gotten sick, had a family emergency, be attending training, or just be focused on other matters. Revenue officers typically have quite a large inventory of cases and they may just not have had time yet to respond.
However, you do need to contact them, so, what can you do to get a response from your revenue officer?
Helpful Strategies and Tactics For Making Contact
First, a quick note on the differences between IRS revenue agents and IRS revenue officers. Revenue officers from the IRS are the ones who make contact if you have an unpaid balance with the IRS. Revenue officers are in the Collection Division of the IRS. Conversely, revenue agents from the IRS conduct audits—they are employed within the IRS Examination Division.
Assuming you are dealing with an actual IRS revenue officer and having difficulty reaching them, a few tactics might help you get a (human) response.
- Following up—persistently—with varying communication methods. Try calling the revenue officer first thing in the morning (7 a.m. or 8 a.m.) or late afternoon. Also, for some reason Friday afternoon is a good time to connect with many revenue officers. If your revenue officer is not picking up the phone, send a fax or follow up with email and snail mail. Having a paper trail showing you repeatedly attempted to communicate with your revenue officer can be helpful.
- Communicate an artificial deadline in your correspondence. Creating some urgency can be an effective way to get a call back from your revenue officer. If you have had repeated difficulty reaching your revenue officer, you could say something like, “If we do not speak by Monday the 25th, I plan to speak with your group manager.” Most revenue officers have group managers overseeing their cases.
- Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). Many taxpayers are unaware of The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, an independent organization within the IRS. It helps taxpayers who have experienced significant delays in getting their disputes resolved. TAS also helps taxpayers who are experiencing significant economic hardship in connection with their IRS account. But they will expect you to have made a reasonable attempt to work with your revenue officer before they get involved.
- Be respectful but direct. We understand how frustrating and stressful it can be to get radio silence from your revenue officer. And, acting rudely and/or cursing at IRS employees is not a crime. However, the way you communicate with your revenue officer can make a big difference in response time. It’s not uncommon for revenue officers to have more than 1,000 cases under their purview at any given time.
When They Do Make Contact, Be Prepared
Don’t assume that, when you finally talk to a human at the IRS, they know everything about your case. Having all your information ready when your revenue officer does call will allow you to maximize your time and get your case on the road to resolution.
Discussing your matter with an experienced tax attorney before you call your revenue officer—or as soon as your revenue officer contacts you for the first time—can mean the difference between getting a fair resolution of your matter or financial disaster. An attorney will speak to the revenue officer on your behalf and work to get you the best deal possible. If a revenue officer has shown up at your door, they mean business. Let’s talk about getting you prepared today.
Robert V. Boeshaar Attorney at Law, LL.M.,PLLC
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