IRS stops surprise visits to taxpayers due to safety concerns

The IRS has announced a policy change that puts an end to unannounced visits by revenue officers to homes or businesses of most taxpayers. This change is part of a larger overhaul of the IRS aimed at reducing confusion and improving safety. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel stated that this change reverses a long-standing practice by revenue officers that goes back decades.

Previously, revenue officers would visit homes and businesses unannounced in order to recover substantial tax debt. These visits were targeted towards taxpayers with a median unpaid balance of $110,000. However, concerns about safety from both IRS employees and taxpayers have prompted this policy change. Werfel explained that knocking on someone's door today is a different scenario than it was 10 or 15 years ago, and there have been reports from IRS employees feeling unsafe.

Under the new policy, the IRS will now make initial contact with taxpayers via a mailed letter, known as a 725-B, to schedule in-person meetings. Werfel emphasized that the agency has the necessary tools to collect revenue without the need for unannounced visits. The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents employees at federal agencies, including IRS workers, supports this change. The union's president, Tony Reardon, stated that the hostile rhetoric and false claims about IRS employees have made their work more dangerous in recent years.

It's important to note that while most unannounced visits are eliminated, there are still "extremely limited situations" where they could occur, such as summonses, subpoenas, or asset seizures. However, these activities are minimal compared to the number of visits that took place under the old policy. Werfel estimated that there were a few hundred of these types of visits each year, compared to tens of thousands of unannounced visits annually.

Overall, this policy change by the IRS aims to enhance safety and reduce confusion for taxpayers. The decision is supported by the National Treasury Employees Union and comes in response to concerns about employee and taxpayer safety. While there are still some exceptions, the majority of unannounced visits will no longer take place.


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