The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it will cease the majority of unannounced visits to taxpayers. This move aims to decrease public confusion and improve safety for taxpayers and IRS employees alike.
The change, which takes immediate effect, will replace spontaneous visits by IRS revenue officers with scheduled meetings organized via mailed letters, marking a significant break from the IRS’s decades-long practice. Revenue officers, who are tasked with visiting homes and businesses to aid in resolving account balances, often through the collection of unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns, will now be armed with prior appointments instead of surprise visits.
The adjustment comes as part of a larger effort to revamp IRS operations following the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act last year and the introduction of the new IRS Strategic Operating Plan in April.
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, who announced the change, stated, “We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to serve taxpayers and the nation better, and making this change is a common-sense step.” He added, “Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees.”
The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) has expressed support for the policy shift, with National President Tony Reardon highlighting the improved safety it provides for IRS employees, who, he says, have faced increasingly dangerous situations in recent years due to “false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce.”
In place of surprise visits, the IRS will now send appointment letters, known as a 725-B, to taxpayers, scheduling follow-up meetings. The agency says this approach will provide taxpayers with more preparedness and clarity, reducing the need for multiple future meetings.
However, it’s important to note that the IRS will maintain unannounced visits in extremely limited situations, including the service of summonses and subpoenas and sensitive enforcement activities involving the seizure of assets.
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Commissioner Werfel has indicated that the IRS will leverage additional staffing for compliance work, funded under the Inflation Reduction Act, to focus on key areas, such as high-income taxpayers with tax issues. He underscored that improved analytics would further aid the IRS’s compliance efforts, enabling a more targeted focus on the most serious tax issues.
Werfel believes this policy change is timely and necessary, saying, “We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without adding stress with unannounced visits. The only losers with this policy change are scammers posing as the IRS.”
The broader IRS Strategic Operating Plan revealed in April, outlines a 10-year plan to transform the agency. This is set to improve taxpayer service, promote fairness in tax compliance efforts, and modernize technology, all in service of better-serving taxpayers, tax professionals, and the nation.