The Internal Revenue Service will end, except in very limited circumstances, the practice of making unannounced visits to taxpayers’ homes and businesses.“This change is effective immediately,”IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said during a July 24, 2023, teleconference with reporters. Werfel said the change is being made in reaction to an increase in scam activity as well as for IRS employee safety.“With a growth in scam artists, taxpayers are increasingly uncertain who was knocking on their doors,” Werfel said. “For IRS employees, there were fears about their own personal safety on these visits. I also learned that these concerns were shared by our partners as the National Treasury Employees Union.”
Unannounced visits will be replaced with scheduled visits. If the IRS needs to meet with a taxpayer, that taxpayer will receive an appointment letter, known as a 725-B letter, to schedule a time for a revenue officer to meet with the taxpayer.“This will help taxpayers feel more prepared when it is time to meet,” Werfel said.““Taxpayers whose cases are assigned to a revenue officer will now be able to schedule face-to-face meetings at a set place and time. They will have the necessary information and documents in hand to reach a resolution of their cases more quickly.”
In addressing what the IRS will do if a taxpayer is not reachable by mail or is not responding to a meeting scheduling letter, Werfel stated that there are other actions that the agency can take to help drive compliance, such as imposing a lien or a levy, which can be done remotely. He also stressed that in past cases where revenue officers made unannounced visits, they were in situations where the revenue officer was attempting to collect a sizable debt with a median in these cases of $110,000.“These homevisits were not occurring for small tax debt,” Werfel said. “These are for big tax debts.” Werfel outlined what he described as “rare instances” when unannounced visits will continue to occur, including service of a summons and subpoena as well as in the conduct of sensitive enforcement activities such as the seizure of assets.“These activities are just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of visits that have taken place in the past,” Werfel said, noting that there were a few hundred each year compared to the tens of thousands of other visits that occurred each year under the decades-old policy.
Werfel said that this policy will not impact activities conducted by the Criminal Investigations division, which operates under its own rules and protocols.“Today’s decision is part of a broader plan that will help us work smarter and be more efficient,” he said, noting this action is part of the larger IRS transformation effort taking place with the help of the supplemental funding provided by the Inflation Reduction Act.
By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor