The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proclaimed July 24 as the date for a “significant policy shift,” putting an end to its habit of making unanticipated visits to taxpayers. This decision was motivated by the desire to enhance safety measures for both the general public and IRS workers, as well as to prevent fraudsters from impersonating IRS agents to intimidate taxpayers.
This adjustment forms part of a broader overhaul of operational policies, driven by the enactment of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act and the introduction of the updated IRS Strategic Operating Plan in April. For many years, IRS workers have sometimes made unannounced, unarmed visits to taxpayers to reconcile accounts, gather unpaid taxes, and obtain unfiled returns.
IRS Procedures: Ending Unannounced Visits and Addressing Misconceptions
Changing the way the IRS functions to better accommodate taxpayers and the country is something we’re reevaluating, and making this alteration is a logical move, stated IRS commissioner Danny Werfel. Revamping this enduring procedure will bolster trust in our tax governance efforts and augment the overall safety of both taxpayers and IRS staff.
However, the increase in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for enhancing IRS services and technology led some Republican legislators to expect that the funds would be allocated for hiring more employees and thus increase audits. This would presumably result in unwanted and unwarranted house calls.
As reported by CBS News, misleading and overblown details about IRS working procedures have made its employees feel more vulnerable. Certain detractors even took to social media to caution others about the IRS’s plan to arm its agents during visits, a notion that has been firmly refuted by both the IRS and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
On July 24, NTEU National President Tony Reardon released an independent statement endorsing the IRS’s decision, rebuking Republicans in Congress for disseminating “aggressive language and inaccurate assertions.”
Reardon commented, “NTEU will continue to demand improved safety for the employees we represent as long as politicians continue to misinform the American populace regarding the lawful, authorized function that IRS workers perform in our democracy.”
The Transition in IRS Approach to Home and Business Visits
He added, “It’s appalling that our country’s public workers must reside in trepidation simply due to their selection of a profession in public service. I implore specific Congressional members to immediately halt the propagation of untruths about the IRS and its staff, acknowledging that their provocative remarks may lead to perilous outcomes.”
Regardless, unexpected visits to homes and businesses have been suspended following Monday’s declaration. Any taxpayer previously subject to an unannounced visit by an IRS official regarding a return or filing issue will now receive a “725-B” letter to arrange face-to-face meetings. Nevertheless, the IRS’s criminal investigation division will persist in its enforcement duties, possibly encompassing unannounced visits for summonses or subpoenas, or “in scenarios involving enforcement actions like the confiscation of assets at risk of being relocated from the U.S.,” according to Accounting Today.