NOTE: As of July 24, 2023 the Internal Revenue Service ended most unannounced visits to taxpayers by IRS revenue officers. See IRS Announcement.
Picture this – There’s a knock at your door. You open up to find an Internal Revenue Service officer standing there asking you about unpaid taxes. What now?
This has become a reality for many families now that COVID-19 restrictions have disappeared and IRS officials are getting out in the field to collect from taxpayers. It’s important to understand this possibility and be prepared for what you should (or shouldn’t) be saying or doing when an IRS officer comes to your home unannounced.
How Do I Know They’re Legitimate?
These door-to-door visits prompt concerns of scammers trying to go to someone’s house and force them to hand over cash or checks in a moment of panic. We recently talked about differentiating between legitimate IRS letters and scam attempts, but how do you identify an IRS officer at your door?
The actual home or office visit may be unannounced due to the urgency of the matter. But before the visit ever happens, the IRS usually will first send several notices stating that you have an amount due, that they intend to contact third parties such as banks, or that they intend to issue a levy.
An IRS collection official, called a Revenue Officer, will explain your rights and obligations as a taxpayer and let you know what the consequences will be if you do not meet those obligations. The Revenue Officer will also be carrying identification with them – including an IRS-issued pocket commission and a federal employee HSPD-12 card or PIV-credential which verifies their identity. Ask to see this card and ask for their supervisor’s contact information if you need to verify the legitimacy of the visit. For more information about how to know if it is really the IRS see these tips on the IRS’ website.
An IRS official will never demand that you pay them using a payment method such as a prepaid debit card or gift card. If someone comes to your door claiming to be an IRS official but the visit seems suspicious and you are unable to verify that they are who they say they are, contact the local police.
Don’t Answer Their Questions
Your biggest responsibility in this interaction will be to verify that the officer is legitimate and to take note of any information they give you about your case. What kind of taxes and in what amounts are they claiming to collect? What do they expect you to do to satisfy the outstanding amount? What happens if you don’t?
They may not give this information, but it can be helpful to your case to make note of what they tell you. You, however, should not give them any information about your circumstances. Similar to an interaction with the police, what you say can be used against you.
Tell Them You Are Getting an Attorney
The only information you should give an IRS official who visits you in person is that you are going to seek legal counsel to represent you in your tax matter. The IRS Taxpayer Bill of Rights provides you with the right to representation and the officer will be required to end the conversation and move on at that point. This also communicates to them that you are going to make sure your case is properly handled.If you need help settling a dispute with the IRS after an officer shows up at your door, contact Robert V. Boeshaar, Attorney at Law, right away.
Robert V. Boeshaar Attorney at Law, LL.M.,PLLC
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