Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revenue officers are government agents who have the authority under the law to collect taxes on behalf of the IRS. These officers often show up announced and can be intimidating. Their role is generally to identify taxpayer assets to pay off back taxes and to collect as much tax money as possible. They may analyze financial information to determine a taxpayer’s ability to pay back taxes, negotiate payment plans with taxpayers to get them to commit to repaying back taxes, seizing property to pay off delinquent taxes, or initiating garnishments to secure funds to pay off tax debt. IRS revenue officers usually conduct face-to-face meetings with taxpayers, which often makes taxpayers nervous and uncomfortable. Dealing with IRS revenue officers is no easy feat, even for seasoned professionals. If you have been confronted by an IRS revenue officer, consider reaching out to Damiens Law for help by calling (662) 442-4423 or (901) 499-4466. You can also familiarize yourself with our helpful tips for dealing with IRS revenue officers below.
The IRS conducts the important job of taxing and collecting individuals and businesses in order to support our government. While you may not like an IRS revenue officer showing up at your door, it is important to remember that they are simply doing their job. You are dealing with another person. Therefore, being polite and respectful can help you start off on the right foot.
Establishing an amicable relationship from the very beginning can go a long way in helping you resolve the tax matter favorably. However, if you are rude or disrespectful to the officer, they will have no incentive to try to help you.
Prepare like your finances depend on it
Just because you are being polite does not mean that everything will automatically be resolved in your favor. It is critical that you aggressively prepare for your visit. You may need to start gathering financial documents to support your position. You can also meet with legal counsel at Damiens Law and prepare a strategy well before the visit if you plan proactively. The IRS has broad powers in collecting tax debt, including the ability to impose liens and levies on your property. Being prepared and working with professionals may help you mitigate the effects of this investigation.
One of the difficulties of dealing with IRS revenue officers is that it can feel like they have an upper hand and are driving the situation. However, taxpayers can take control of the situation by:
- Seeking legal help for the matter
- Determining their goals before meeting with the IRS revenue officer
- Assessing their full situation with the IRS revenue officer
- Proposing deadlines that meet the taxpayer’s schedule and needs
- Narrowing the focus of the interaction so the IRS revenue officer does not go on a fishing expedition
IRS revenue officers often work dozens of cases at a time. They may deal with difficult people who act aggressively towards them. You can try to stay on the officer’s good side by acting in a cooperative manner. You can do this by:
- Filling out documents correctly
- Not attempting to hide assets or commit fraud
- Organizing the documents you submit to them
- Labeling your documents
- Only including relevant information that the officer has requested
- Providing the information requested
- Meeting all deadlines
- Showing up for scheduled appointments
The levy applies to your regular wages, as well as for any fees, commissions, and bonuses you collect.
Remember competing goals
The IRS and the taxpayer often have competing goals. The taxpayer’s goal is often to pay as little in taxes as possible while the IRS wants to collect as much tax as possible. Additionally, the IRS revenue officer may have their own goals, such as closing as many cases as quickly as possible. Do not get stuck thinking that the IRS revenue officer’s goal is to give the taxpayer what they want. Additionally, IRS revenue officers must generally receive a manager’s approval for any resolutions. This means that even if an IRS revenue officer wants to help you, they may be limited to the extent that their agency allows.
For example, the IRS uses various standards regarding reasonable expenses. They use this standard to determine necessary expenses. Other expenses may be considered luxury items, such as:
- Private school tuition
- College tuition
- Gym memberships
- Investment properties
- Restaurant outings
IRS revenue officers may inform taxpayers that such expenses are considered luxury items and may give them a deadline of a year to adjust and eliminate these expenses. Taxpayers may have to make sacrifices in order to align their situation with the IRS’ goal of collecting back taxes. Therefore, it is important that taxpayers manage their expectations when working with IRS revenue officers.
Taxpayers can consider their goals before working with the IRS revenue officer. It is important for them to carefully contemplate what they hope to achieve, such as minimizing their tax debt, paying off the debt within a certain period of time, or keeping their property. By understanding their own goals, taxpayers will be better able to negotiate for a resolution that works for them.
Be ready to negotiate
IRS revenue officers are ultimately interested in resolving the tax issue. They are not best served spending countless hours trying to force a taxpayer to pay money they do not have. You may have a variety of options to resolve your tax debt, such as:
- Setting up a payment plan
- Submitting an offer in compromise
- Requesting a penalty abatement
- Requesting innocent spouse relief
- Entering into uncollectible status
For any of these options, you will want to explain why this option is best aligned for you and the IRS.
Stand up for yourself
While it is important to cooperate with the IRS revenue officer, do not let yourself get pushed around. If the revenue officer is trying to get you to commit to entering into an installment agreement that calls for a high monthly payment that you cannot afford, do not feel you have to agree to this. State your position and ask for a more reasonable option. If you are afraid that the IRS revenue officer is taking advantage of you or not treating you fairly, consider seeking legal representation.
Do not ask to talk to a manager
Many people get frustrated working with collectors and have learned that they can sometimes achieve better resolutions by escalating the call to a manager. However, this method is rarely successful when dealing with IRS revenue officers. While IRS revenue officers have general managers and territory managers, these individuals are less likely to take your side against their revenue officer. Additionally, the IRS revenue officer may resent that you went over their head to complain, which can just make the situation worse.
Stay in contact
While your tax case is ongoing, remain in contact with your assigned IRS revenue officer. These officers are often busy identifying assets, going into the field, interviewing taxpayers, and dealing with administrative burdens. They may not remember your case from the next taxpayer’s case. Therefore, it is important that you stay in contact and ensure that your case is moving along.
It may be difficult to reach the IRS revenue officer who has been assigned to your case, and the officer may take substantial time to review documents. Try to be patient, but also be sure you follow up. You are still bound to any deadlines imposed on you. You can call and leave a message to check on the status of your case and ensure that they have everything they need to continue your case. Keep a log of each call and message you leave for your records.
Request a collection due process hearing
If a taxpayer is not getting the resolution they are looking for, they can wait to receive further communication from the IRS that the agency plans to take action to collect the debt. For example, the IRS may send a Notice of Levy or a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. At this point, the taxpayer request for a Collection Due Process hearing. Once this request is submitted, the tax case will be transferred to a settlement officer who may be more likely to settle the claim than the revenue officer. Additionally, this will cease the revenue officer’s collection actions while this matter is pending.
Contact Damiens Law for help dealing with IRS revenue officers
Dealing with IRS revenue officers is not always an easy feat. This is especially true if you are busy with family, work, and other obligations. Having a qualified tax lawyer on your side can give you tremendous peace of mind. Tax lawyers often have more experience working directly with IRS revenue officers and negotiating for fair outcomes based on tax law. A lawyer can also help you gather the information you need, present the information in an organized manner, and ensure you meet the relevant deadlines in your case. A lawyer can also explain your legal rights and options to you and look out for your interests.