If an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent visits a home or business, the taxpayer may be alarmed and confused about their rights. The experienced tax attorneys at Damiens Law can explain the steps you can take if you are ever involved in this situation. If an IRS agent recently showed up at your doorstep, consider contacting Damiens Law for advice and guidance. You can reach the office by calling (601) 957-9672.
Can an IRS agent visit a home or business?
According to the IRS, revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement workers who handle cases that involve taxes that a taxpayer owes or a delinquent tax return. Often, IRS revenue officers show up to collect taxes when taxpayers have not set up a payment agreement with the IRS and they owe more than $100,000 in taxes or have unfiled tax returns. Revenue officers are allowed to make unannounced visits to a home or business because scheduling appointments would be inconsistent with the urgent nature of these visits. Therefore, it is possible that these IRS agents may visit a home or business legally.
Other types of IRS agents may visit homes or businesses. For example, IRS revenue agents may conduct audits at a home or business. However, these agents will generally send a notice first regarding their upcoming visit and try to schedule a specific time and place to visit. IRS special agents may also show up at a taxpayer’s home or business to conduct an IRS criminal investigation. Special agents may show up unannounced.
Reasons IRS agents visit homes or businesses
There are several reasons why an IRS agent may show up at a taxpayer’s doorstep, such as:
- A revenue officer is sent to the taxpayer’s home or business to collect on severely delinquent taxes
- A taxpayer’s business owes taxes
- A business is behind on payroll taxes and a revenue officer shows up to show the IRS is serious about quickly resolving the issue
- An IRS agent is conducting an audit and is showing up for a pre-arranged appointment
- The taxpayer is suspected of tax evasion and the agent is conducting a criminal investigation
- An IRS special agent suspects someone else of committing a tax crime and is visiting the taxpayer to gather evidence about the other taxpayer
Steps to take if an IRS agent visits your home or business
If an IRS agent visits your home or business, here are some steps you can take to protect your rights:
Check that it is really an IRS agent
While IRS agents can show up at a taxpayer’s home or business, so can scammers and criminals. Thieves and scam artists may show up at any time, not just during tax season. In these instances, fraudulent persons may state that there is a problem with a taxpayer’s tax return and demand immediate payment.
The first thing you can do to try to determine if the person at the door is actually an IRS agent is to ask for identification. The IRS says that revenue officers carry two forms of official identification. The first is a pocket commission. The second is a HSPD-12 card, which is a standard type of government identification for federal employees. Both of these forms of identification have photos of the employee and a serial number. Taxpayers can ask to see both forms of ID. If the IRS worker is a special agent, they will carry law enforcement credentials, including a badge.
The IRS also recommends that taxpayers take the following steps to verify whether a person is a revenue officer or not:
- Review notices – The IRS will usually send notices in collection cases via regular mail. The IRS may also contact a taxpayer over the phone before they send an agent in person. If the taxpayer is an employer who has not complied with employment tax laws, the IRS may send Federal Tax Deposit Alerts. These alerts are often followed by a Telephone Contact Letter (L5857) that states a contact will be made by phone. However, an in-person visit may still occur announced. If a revenue officer attempts to complete a home or business visit and the taxpayer was not there or available, they will typically leave an FTD Alert Field Contact Letter (L5664) that explains why the field visit was attempted and asking the employer to contact the revenue officer.
- Consider the intent – The IRS explains that revenue officers are there to help taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations. While they can collect on taxes, they are not supposed to threaten or demand unusual payment from taxpayers.
- Review payment options – Revenue officers will offer several different payment options, such as a check payable to the United States Treasury or automated clearing house payments. If the “agent” asks for payment via gift card or cash, this typically implies a scam.
Signs the “IRS agent” is an imposter
There are some potential red flags that can alert you that a person showing up at the door is an imposter and not an official IRS agent. Check for these signs:
- The agent demands that you use a specific payment method rather than letting you choose from a variety of options.
- The agent demands you pay taxes via a gift card, prepaid debit card, or wire transfer.
- The agent asks you to pay an entity other than the United States Treasury.
- The agent threatens to have you arrested or revoke your driver’s or business license.
- The agent demands you make payment without the opportunity to question the amount due or appeal the decision.
If you are concerned that the person who has showed up demanding payment for back taxes is not actually an IRS agent, contact the IRS to confirm this information and to report any scams.
If you meet the IRS agent at the door, you can request information from them, such as their name, contact information, job title, and reason for visit. Request any paperwork the agent brought with them. If you were not present when the agent visited, this information should be included in a letter the agent leaves at your door.
Do not let the agent into a home or business
IRS agents do not have a legal right to enter your home, place of business, or any non-public area of your property unless they have a search warrant, your permission, or a court order. Do not agree to allow an agent without a warrant or court order into your home or business. Even if you do not say much to an agent, the agent may try to gather evidence against you based on what they see during their visit, such as the condition of your home or a new car in your garage.
Do not talk to the agent
Though taxpayers are required to cooperate in IRS investigations, they are not required to talk to IRS agents without legal representation. As some tax issues can potentially involve criminal offenses, taxpayers have a right to remain silent.
Do not fill out paperwork
Revenue officers may try to get the taxpayer to agree to a repayment plan, agree to the amount of tax owed, or make some other concession in writing. However, taxpayers should not sign any such paperwork without first contacting a legal professional for advice.
Contact an experienced tax lawyer
Taxpayers can contact a tax lawyer for legal advice and guidance for help dealing with the underlying tax issue. If the IRS is coming to a taxpayer’s home or business, the matter may be serious. Damiens Law has successfully represented taxpayers in front of the IRS. Our tax lawyers are familiar with the IRS tax collection and investigative procedures. We know the tactics IRS agents may use to try to collect tax or gather evidence to support a criminal investigation.
Our team can investigate the situation, review your options, and devise a strategy to resolve the tax issue. We can also handle communications with the IRS on your behalf so that you do not have to deal with this stress and so that we ensure we provide accurate information that does not harm your case. Additionally, we can confirm whether the situation is real and not a scam.
If you know ahead of time that an IRS agent may be visiting you, we can work with you to gather relevant evidence, review tax returns, prepare any delinquent tax returns, and prepare for the visit before the agent ever arrives. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to present a financial statement to the IRS. Our knowledgeable tax lawyers can assist with this process, too.
Contact Damiens Law for help resolving your tax issue
If an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent visited your home or business, Damiens Law can help. We can review your situation, represent you, and explain the steps you can take to resolve the underlying tax situation. If an IRS agent has recently contacted you, consider contacting Damiens Law at (601) 957-9672.