The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will end most unannounced visits to taxpayer homes by agency revenue officers.
Unannounced visits from IRS agents have ended “effective immediately” except under “unique circumstances.”
The agency’s move is an effort to reduct public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees, per a news release from the agency, which will transition to mailing letters to schedule meetings with taxpayers.
“We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a common-sense step,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. “Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees.”
Werfel also mentioned a growth in scam artists posing as IRS agents confusing taxpayers and local law-enforcement.
“These visits created extra anxiety for taxpayers already wary of potential scam artists,” he said.
Why did the IRS allow agents to show up at people’s homes unannounced to begin with?
From turning a blind eye to tax evasion of the wealthy and well-connected, to harassing small businesses and lower-income families, the IRS and its army of 87,000 new employees have done nothing…
— Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne (@RepBethVanDuyne) July 25, 2023
According to the news release, IRS officers routinely faced hazards and uncertainty when making unannounced visits to delinquent taxpayers.
“At the same time, the uncertainty around what IRS employees faced when visiting these homes created stress for them as well,” Werfel continued. “This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it.”
The IRS Commissioner said the agency has the “tools” to collect revenue without adding stress with unannounced visits adding: “The only losers with this change in policy are scammers posing as the IRS.”
“The safety of IRS employees is of paramount importance and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce,” wrote the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) in support of the policy change. “We applaud Commissioner Werfel’s quick action after hearing the safety concerns raised by NTEU leaders and IRS Field Collection employees who faced dangerous situations that put their safety at risk. We look forward to working with the IRS on this and other actions to protect the safety of all IRS employees.”
Taxpayers will be allowed more time to prepare with the IRS’ implementation of appointment letters, which are known as 725-Bs.
Unannounced visits from IRS agents will still occur in instances of service of summonses and subpoenas, along with other enforcement activities involving seizure of assets — “especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of the government.”
The IRS cites “less than a few hundred” instances of aforementioned situations per year.