IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel speaks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington, DC on April 19, 2023.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The IRS on Monday ended its controversial practice of unannounced home or business visits by revenue officials for most taxpayers. Part a wider overhaul of the IZS, policy change aims to reduce public confusion and improve safety.

“Starting today, if someone rings your doorbell, it is extremely unlikely that you will become an IRS collection agent unless you have arranged for a visit to your home,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel he told reporters in a phone call. “The change reverses a long-standing practice by IRS tax officials that goes back decades.”

Formerly fiscal officers — other than fiscal agents who perform audits — visited homes and businesses unannounced to collect a “substantial tax debt” with a median unpaid balance of $110,000, he said.

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The decision comes amid security concerns from IRS employees and taxpayers, according to Werfel. “Knocking on somebody’s door today is a different scenario than it was 10 or 15 years ago, and there were significant reports from IRS employees that they felt unsafe,” he said.

Effective immediately, the agency will now make initial contact through a mailed letter, known as a 725-B, to schedule in-person meetings with taxpayers in most cases. “We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without adding the stress of unannounced visits,” Werfel said.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents workers at 34 federal agencies, including IRS workers, said it supports the policy change. “Unfortunately, hostile rhetoric and false claims about IRS employees have made their jobs more dangerous in recent years,” said Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union. in the statement. Some Republicans cited concerns about “new IRS agents“by pressing the defund the IRS.

“The tax officers we represent will continue to effectively and efficiently carry out their mission to help taxpayers meet their statutory tax obligations through other means of communication,” Reardon said.

IRS visits may still occur in “extremely limited situations”

While the policy change eliminates most unannounced visits, there are “extremely limited situations” where they could still occur, such as subpoenas and subpoenas or asset seizures. “These activities are a drop in the bucket compared to the number of visits that have taken place in the past,” Werfel said.

There are typically several hundred of these types of visits each year, compared to tens of thousands of unannounced visits annually under the old policy, he said.

Previously, unannounced visits were “a routine part of the job” of the agency’s revenue officers, who were assigned 100,000 cases each year, Werfel said. However, it is not clear exactly how many unannounced visits there were each year.

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