If you receive an IRS Letter 9297 (Summary of Taxpayer Contact), it implies that an IRS revenue officer is working on your account and requires financial information. When taxpayers have compliance difficulties, a large back tax debt, or the IRS’s automated approach has failed to collect payment, the IRS often assigns accounts to revenue officers.
This form is used by the IRS to determine how you can pay your tax debt. If you fail to respond the revenue officer will pursue actions against you in different ways. In this article, we’ll go through what exactly Form 9297 is, why you received it, your rights, and how to respond. To get help now, contact us at Damien’s Law today.
What Is IRS Form 9297?
IRS Form 9297 (Summary of Taxpayer Contact) is a written request for information, documents, and specific actions from an IRS Revenue Officer (collections officer) to a taxpayer. If you receive Form 9297, it means the IRS has assigned a revenue officer to your account. It is the revenue officer’s role to collect your tax debt or to assist you in making payment arrangements.
Why Did You Receive Form 9297?
If you have received this form, the IRS is attempting to collect information from you in order to establish your ability to pay any tax liabilities. If the IRS determines that you are able to pay your past taxes, they can use this information to determine how much income or assets you have available to pay.
An IRS revenue officer will normally mail you this form, and it will include a list of the documents and information you must give.
The IRS revenue officer assigned to your case may telephone you in addition to mailing Form 9297. This phone conversation could take place before or after you receive Form 9297, depending on what the revenue officer wants to do with the information provided by Form 9297 or if they need you to explain what you’ve previously given them.
When to Expect With Form 9297
Depending on the amount you owe, the IRS Revenue Officer may be assigned your case months or years after the liability has accrued. If you owe more than $100,000, it is almost guaranteed that someone will be assigned to your case if you are not on an installment plan that will allow you to pay the taxes in full before the statute of limitations on collections ends.
Statute of Limitations
To collect taxes due by a taxpayer, the IRS has 10 years from the date of assessment. This means that once the IRS assesses a tax liability, whether through a filed return or a Substitute for Return (SFR), the agency’s ability to pursue collections begins to run out. After 10 years, the IRS loses its legal right to collect the outstanding tax bill.
What is a Revenue Officer?
A revenue officer is an IRS official who collects late taxes and secures taxpayers’ overdue tax returns. They examine financial information to determine if a taxpayer can afford to pay their tax debt, and they help taxpayers to establish payment arrangements. They also have the authority to collect tax obligations forcibly via federal tax liens, wage garnishments, and asset levies.
What Can a Revenue Officer Do?
A revenue officer has the authority to take collection measures against you. They must, however, adhere to the proper process. Here’s an outline of what powers revenue officers have:
- Issue federal tax liens – If a tax lien has not already been issued by the automated system, the revenue officer will do so. If you sell or borrow against your personal assets, tax liens attach to them and give the IRS legal rights to the proceeds (up to the amount of your debt plus collection expenses).
- Garnishment of Wages – The IRS can send a letter to your employer and request that payments to the IRS be deducted from your paycheck.
- Tax Levies – Tax Levies are issued when the IRS seizes your assets. Bank accounts, third-party payments, retirement funds, and all of your real or personal possessions are all subject to levy. At least 30 days before the levy, the IRS agent must send you a letter describing your rights to appeal.
- Tax fraud charges – If an IRS officer suspects you of tax fraud or evasion, they can propose an investigation into your account. Tax evasion can result in civil and criminal penalties, as well as jail time in extreme circumstances.
Why Have I Been Assigned a Revenue Officer?
If an IRS revenue officer is working on your case, it indicates that the IRS is committed to addressing your ongoing compliance issues, tax debt, or both. In general, the IRS employs a revenue officer when:
- A taxpayer has multiple outstanding tax returns.
- A taxpayer owes overdue taxes totaling more than $100,000
- The Automated Collection System (ACS) of the agency was unable to collect a tax obligation
Your Rights Working with a Revenue Officer
When interacting with revenue officials or the IRS in general, you have the following rights as a taxpayer:
- You have the right to clear explanations and to be kept up to date on decisions affecting your account.
- You should not be treated unfairly because you owe back taxes.
- The IRS must accurately apply penalties and interest and credit payments made to your account. You should never be required to pay more than what you owe.
If a revenue officer makes a decision with which you disagree, you have the right to object. You can request a managerial review if you disagree with a proposed collection action. You also have the right to appeal if you disagree with the manager.
Revenue Officer vs ACS
When you fall behind on your taxes, the IRS may assign your case to a revenue officer or a group of Automated Collection System (ACS) staff. Here’s an overview of both.
When a revenue officer is assigned to your case, they are solely responsible for resolving it. As a result, matters that are assigned to an officer tend to be settled more quickly. In other words, the revenue officer will make every effort to contact you, set up payment arrangements, or pursue collection actions against you.
A revenue officer, like the ACS, can answer calls send notices, and issue liens and levies. Revenue officers, unlike ACS staff, must resolve the cases they take on and cannot delegate a case to another collection employee. In other words, you can no longer ignore your tax burden if a revenue officer becomes personally involved in your case.
A revenue officer understands the financial status of a delinquent taxpayer and actively aids them with tax resolution options. The foundation of a revenue officer’s collection activities is outgoing face-to-face or phone-based contact with delinquent taxpayers.
Automated Collection System
However, when your case is sent to ACS, several employees work on it. They are less likely to contact you or assist you in setting up payment plans, offers in compromise, or other collection options. If they are unable to handle your case, they will normally send it to the next employee in the queue.
Working with a revenue officer can be easier in some situations than dealing with the automated system. Your case has been personally assigned to the revenue officer who has reviewed the case and may be able to assist you in finding a solution.
If your account is in the ACS, the individuals you contact will be unfamiliar with your situation. As a result, they may give you inaccurate information or be unable to assist you in determining the best settlement option for your situation.
How to Respond to Notice 9297
The majority of Form 9297 is a list of documents and information that the revenue officer needs from you. Form 9297 may request the following information depending on your tax problem:
- Form 433 A, 433-B, or 433-F (Collection Information Statement).
- Planning and filing of all unfiled tax returns for the last six years.
- Verified estimated tax payments.
- Employment tax deposit proof.
- Personal and business bank statements from the preceding 12 months.
- Your most recent pay stub as proof of your year-to-date gross pay, deductions, withholding, and net pay.
- Proof of any other income earned in the previous three months.
- A list of all investment assets you own as well as the most recent statement for each item.
- All out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred within the last three months.
- Mortgage statements and confirmation of the most recent mortgage payment for any property to which you hold title.
- Printed copies of your most recent utility and phone bills.
- DMV registration copies for all of your vehicles.
To respond to Form 9297, simply send this information to the IRS. If you are an individual, the main document to fill out in response to an IRS Form 9297 is the IRS Form 433-A. This will entail a list of all household members, assets and financial accounts, liabilities, income, and monthly spending.
Because the financial form must be signed under penalty of perjury, you must be diligent in listing every asset and source of income. Furthermore, if you do not reply thoroughly to this informal level of request, the Revenue Officer has the authority to seek documents directly from banks or to force a response with a formal summons.
What Are the Deadlines for Form 9297?
The deadlines for each request are listed on Form 9297. Typically, taxpayers have only a few weeks to complete late taxes, verify payments, and provide documents. If you do not meet the requests by these dates, the revenue officer may issue a formal summons to get papers directly from the bank or force an interview over the phone to complete Form 433-A.
Failure to meet a deadline may result in levy action. Also, as noted above, keep in mind that you are signing Form 433-A under penalty of perjury, and you must disclose all of your income and assets. There are severe fines if you fail to record all of your assets or undervalue them on this form.
What Happens If You Ignore Notice 9297?
If you can demonstrate good faith by providing some of the more straightforward information required, such as bank statements and pay stubs, the Revenue Officer may provide you more time to complete the response. Most of the time, being responsive and cooperative is the best option.
If neither the source materials nor the Form 433 are delivered, the IRS Revenue Officer has the authority to issue a summons to the banks or to force an interview through the use of a summons. In most situations, a Revenue Officer can force a summons response by referring the case to the D.O.J. for a court order.
The Revenue Officer Interview – What to Expect and Your Rights
Before or after sending a letter including Form 9297, the IRS Revenue Officer may conduct an initial interview.
During the initial interview, the revenue officer will disclose their title, name, and employee identification number. The revenue officer will also go over your rights as a taxpayer and address any questions you may have. The revenue officer will then take the following actions:
- Inquire about the cause of your noncompliance or delinquency
- Request that you file all past-due tax returns through their office as soon as possible.
- Request that you pay your tax due in full or make payment arrangements.
During the initial interview, revenue officers are often unable to resolve tax problems. When this happens, the revenue officer will sit down with you and go over a realistic and clear resolution plan. They will then draft Form 9297, which will outline the documents and information required to settle the situation. Form 9297 will be delivered along with Publication 1 (Your Rights as a Taxpayer) and Publication 594 (What You Should Know About the IRS Collection Process) by the revenue officer.
Your Interview Rights
Under IRS regulations, taxpayers have several rights during an interview. These include:
- If a taxpayer states during an interview that they wish to consult with an authorized representative, the IRS employee must postpone the interview to allow for such consultation. The IRS will then allow at least 10 business days for a consultation with an authorized representative.
- When the interview is related to the decision or collection of tax, the taxpayer has the right to make an audio recording of the interview. However, telephone interviews are not covered by the right to record audio. If an officer becomes aware that a taxpayer is recording or attempting to record a phone conversation, they will request them to terminate the recording.
What If You Can’t Afford to Pay?
If you find yourself unable to pay your IRS tax liability, it is critical that you address the matter as soon as possible to prevent any consequences. Failure to pay taxes can result in penalties, interest charges, and other financial difficulties. If you are facing financial difficulties, there are several options available to help you settle your tax debt. These include:
- Payment plan – If you join a short-term or long-term installment plan, you may be able to spread your payments over 72 months (six years). Your tax situation will determine which payment plans are available to you. There are three payment options: full payment, a short-term payment plan (paying in 180 days or less), or a long-term payment plan (installment agreement) paying monthly.
- Offer in compromise – An Offer in Compromise (OIC) is an IRS program that allows eligible taxpayers to settle their tax payments for less than the full amount owed. This program is designed for individuals and businesses who are facing financial difficulties and are unable to pay their total tax bill.
- Abating penalties – You may be eligible for administrative waiver relief if this is your first tax penalty or if you meet other requirements authorized by tax law. An administrative waiver, under certain situations, offers freedom from particular penalties. The First Time Abate is the most common administrative waiver for individuals and businesses. Even if you haven’t fully paid the tax on your return, you can request a penalty abatement for the first time.
When To Consider Representation
All you have to do to complete Form 9297 is find the required documents, make copies, and mail them to the IRS. However, there are some circumstances in which replying to Form 9297 is more complicated.
It’s recommended to seek representation if the following relates to you:
- You are unable to pay your tax debt in full.
- You disagree with the tax balance on the notice.
- You’re not sure why you got the notice.
- You disagree with the penalties on your account.
- You have significant compliance difficulties and are not eligible for an installment agreement.
- You consider the revenue officer to be acting outside of their authority.
- You believe the revenue officer is attempting to levy your bank or garnish your wages.
A skilled tax attorney can assist you by establishing a payment plan for your tax bill, having the IRS suspend collection efforts, or convincing the IRS to settle your tax debt for less than what you owe. They can also help you argue that you aren’t legally responsible for a specific tax balance if the IRS made a mistake or if your spouse should be entirely responsible for the tax burden.
When To Respond on Your Own
In some circumstances, you may feel perfectly at ease replying to Form 9297 on your own. However, if you want to decrease penalties, apply for a tax relief program such as an offer in compromise, or challenge an inaccurate assessment, you should consult with an attorney.
Contact Us for Help
It is an IRS revenue officer’s role to collect your tax debt or to assist you in making payment arrangements. If you have received Form 9297, you have to respond by the deadline. Failure to respond can result in the IRS Revenue Officer issuing a summons to the banks and pursuing collection actions against you.
While you can respond to Form 9297 yourself, it’s recommended to seek professional help – especially if you have questions regarding the notice. If you have received Form 9297 and are unsure how to respond, Damiens Law can help. Please contact us for a free consultation.