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The Center Square [By Brett Rowland] –
The Internal Revenue Service said Monday it will end most unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers to reduce confusion and improve safety for taxpayers and employees.
The change reverses a decades-long practice by IRS revenue officers – the unarmed agency employees whose duties include visiting households and businesses to help taxpayers resolve their account balances by collecting unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns.
The unannounced visits will end effective immediately, except in a few unique circumstances and will be replaced with mailed letters to schedule meetings, according to the agency.
The National Treasury Employees Union backed the decision.
“NTEU welcomes the IRS decision to halt unannounced visits by IRS Field Collection employees,” National President of the National Treasury Employees Union Tony Reardon said in a statement. “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.”
The IRS noted that there have been increased security concerns, including an increase in scam artists bombarding taxpayers raising confusion about home visits by IRS revenue officers. In other cases, scam artists have appeared at a taxpayer’s door posing as IRS agents.
“These visits created extra anxiety for taxpayers already wary of potential scam artists,” Werfel said. “At the same time, the uncertainty around what IRS employees faced when visiting these homes created stress for them as well. This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it.”
Instead of unannounced visits, revenue officers will make contact with taxpayers through an appointment letter, known as a 725-B, and schedule a follow-up meeting. Taxpayers whose cases are assigned to a revenue officer will be able to schedule face-to-face meetings at a set place and time.
The IRS said there will still be “extremely limited situations where unannounced visits will occur.”
“These rare instances include service of summonses and subpoenas; and also sensitive enforcement activities involving seizure of assets, especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of the government,” the agency said. “To put this in perspective, these types of situations typically number less than a few hundred each year – a small fraction compared to the tens of thousands of unannounced visits that typically occurred annually under the old policy.”