If you or your business owes a significant amount of back taxes or has failed to file tax returns for a number of years, you may get an unannounced visit from an IRS Revenue Officer. This can be very unnerving when he or she catches you off-guard.
You may have made the mistake of thinking you can hide from the IRS or negotiate with the representative on your own, but that can lead you into further problems. Contact an experienced Maryland tax attorney at Gabaie & Associates, LLC, to protect your assets.
Reasons an IRS Revenue Officer Shows Up In Person
In recent years, the government has slashed the IRS's budget for Revenue Officers in the field, so if one shows up at your door, it is because the IRS believes your tax delinquency is one of the most severe. The Revenue Officer's job is to collect delinquent taxes.
If you owe back taxes, an IRS Revenue Officer may attempt to contact you unannounced. This makes an impression with the taxpayer that the IRS is serious about collecting due taxes and is within the IRS's policy. If your business owes taxes, the IRS will attempt to contact you at your place of business first. If you owe individual income taxes, the IRS will attempt to contact you at your home. The officer will leave his or her business card in the chance you were not present at the time of the unannounced visit.
IRS Revenue Officers typically collect on large payroll tax delinquencies rather than smaller income tax delinquencies but depending on the nature of your case and the IRS's priorities, you may receive a visit from a Revenue Officer for either reason.
The Difference Between a Revenue Officer and a Revenue Agent
IRS Revenue Officers are tasked with locating people with tax delinquencies and collecting owed back taxes as quickly as possible. They have the power to garnish wages, seize assets, levy bank accounts, or file federal tax liens.
IRS Revenue Agents conduct audits, and they typically deal with businesses rather than individual taxpayers. They assess the amount of back taxes owed but do not collect on the debt. Taxpayers generally receive an audit notice before an IRS Revenue Agent arrives at the business.
The IRS also has Special Agents that represent the Criminal Investigations unit. These IRS employees are law enforcement officers, and they carry badges and firearms. If a Special Agent shows up at your door, it is because the IRS is investigating you for a tax crime, like embezzlement.
How to Tell if the Officer is Legitimate
Phone and in-person IRS scams are common, so if someone claiming to be an IRS Revenue Officer shows up at your door, you must verify it is legitimate.
IRS Revenue Officers do make routine, unannounced, in-person visits to individual taxpayers and businesses, so you cannot assume the visit is a scam if you were not notified of it by mail, which is the IRS's preferred method of communication.
Legitimate officers will provide you with two forms of identification. The first is the pocket commission, and the second is the HSPD-12 card. You have the right to confirm the officer's identity by calling the dedicated IRS telephone number.
Although the officer may try to collect on the debt during his visit, he will NEVER do any of the following:
- Demand that you use a specific payment method, such as a wire transfer, gift card, or prepaid debit card;
- Demand that you pay without the opportunity to question or appeal the claimed amount you owe;
- Ask you to make your payment to an entity other than the "United States Treasury."
- Threaten to have you arrested; or
- Threaten to revoke your driver's license or your business license.
These are common tactics that scammers use when impersonating IRS Revenue Officers.
How the Revenue Officer Collects Payments
IRS Revenue Officers have several options for collecting payment for delinquent taxes. The method they use depends on your unique situation and your personal assets or business assets.
After due process, IRS Revenue Officers can seize personal or business property. Ignoring letters sent to you by the IRS, especially those sent by certified mail, may make you miss your opportunity to contest the seizure or request a review.
IRS Revenue Officers can also freeze your liquid assets, such as your savings and checking accounts. Again, you are entitled to due process before this happens.
Your wages can be garnished after an audit confirms the amount of back taxes you owe. The amount that the IRS garnishes depends on the number of exemptions that you claim on your tax return.
A federal tax lien is the IRS's claim to your property. It may be attached to your real estate, personal property, or other financial assets. The IRS files a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, which is a public document that notifies other creditors that the government has a claim to your property. This can affect your ability to obtain credit and may lower your credit score by up to 150 points. If the federal tax lien is against your business, it attaches to all of your business assets, including your accounts receivable.
How to Respond to a Revenue Officer
The IRS Revenue Officer assigned to your case may be personable and professional, but be cautious in how you respond and interact with him or her.
The IRS Revenue Officer may give you Form 433-B, which determines the amount the IRS can collect from you each month. Do not try to fill this form out yourself before contacting an experienced tax attorney at Gabaie & Associates, LLC. Filling out this form while the Revenue Officer is still present may lock you into an installment payment plan that you cannot afford or that is more than you rightfully owe.
The Revenue Officer can only enter public areas unless you give them permission or if they have a warrant. If they have a warrant, they will usually bring law enforcement with them. When a Revenue Officer shows up at your house, you do not have to let them in. Politely take their name and identification number from their identification card and inform them that you are getting representation before proceeding further.
Contact an Experienced Maryland Tax Attorney Today
When an IRS Revenue Officer showed up at your door, time is of the essence. If you fail to respond to the IRS, you could lose your real estate, personal property, or your business assets. Maryland tax attorney Juda Gabaie has experience building relationships with IRS Revenue Officers while protecting your best interests. Contact him today online or at (443) 345-8291.