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Estate Planning Tips

Consumer Alerts on Tax Scams (Series 3 of 3)


How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door: Collection

Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees who work cases that involve an amount owed by a taxpayer or a delinquent tax return.  Their role involves education, investigation, and when necessary, appropriate enforcement.

Generally, home or business visits are unannounced because scheduling appointments for such matters would be inconsistent with their proactive and urgent nature. For example, many urgent and complex cases involve employers’ employment tax withholding requirement.

Revenue officers carry two forms of official identification.  Both forms of Identification have serial numbers – and you can ask to see both.

Revenue Officer Visits

The vast majority of collection cases begin as letters (called “notices”) sent to taxpayers because the case is unresolved.  A significant number of these cases are also previously worked by the Automated Collection System – an IRS program that tries to resolve the taxpayer’s account over the phone directly with the taxpayer after a notice sent to the taxpayer was unsuccessful at resolving the situation.  

A small portion of the revenue officers’ work involves proactive outreach to employers, called Federal Tax Deposit Alerts, sent at the earliest sign that a business taxpayer is falling behind on payroll tax deposits. These are generally not preceded by a notice.

How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door: Audits

The IRS examines or audits tax returns to verify that what the taxpayer reported is correct. This doesn’t mean that the taxpayer has made an error or been dishonest. In fact, some examinations result in a refund to the taxpayer or acceptance of the return without change.

There are various reasons the IRS may telephone or visit a taxpayer at home during an audit, but at that point the taxpayer would be well aware of the audit.   

Audit Contacts

After mailing an initial appointment letter we may call to confirm and discuss items needed for the audit. An audit may include an interview with the taxpayer or his or her Power of Attorney, if one is appointed, and sometimes include a tour of the taxpayer’s business operation.

Third party contacts – if while examining one taxpayer’s return, we need information from someone else, we will first issue a letter to that third party requesting the information.  After that we may contact them by telephone.