Being in debt with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is serious enough. And one of the scariest practices of the IRS has been that the IRS would send out agents to arrive, unannounced, at tens of thousands of homes and businesses each year to confront taxpayers about their unpaid taxes—ideally to address their tax issues right then. But in July 2023, the IRS announced that, in most cases, it is ending these surprise visits, effective immediately.
Crucially, there are a few things taxpayers should know about this change and what it means.
First, for most delinquent taxpayers, the policy change means they will be getting letters in the mail to arrange for scheduled appointments. While the details are still being worked out, this is great news for taxpayers. Not only will this end the stress of an unannounced agent's appearance, but it will also give taxpayers the ability to prepare for these meetings. They'll even have time to get a tax attorney or other representative to be with them—which, of course, wasn't usually possible if the agents just showed up at someone's door.
Additionally, the IRS hasn't ended all unannounced visits. Agents will still come unannounced to serve subpoenas and summons, and in certain other instances where the agency has concluded that surprise is necessary to maintain the agents' safety or in other exigent circumstances. However, the IRS says there are usually less than a few hundred a year of those incidents each year—compared to the thousands of unannounced visits they've done annually.
Taxpayers should also be aware of one reason for the change: Scam artists were posing as IRS agents, taking advantage of taxpayers, and confusing local law enforcement officials. Now, taxpayers and law enforcement alike will know that if anyone suddenly arrives at their door claiming to be an IRS agent, they are not legitimate.
While the change will relieve many taxpayers from a stressful encounter, taxpayers should not interpret this as a way to avoid responding to the IRS. Instead, they should be more vigilant and responsive if they receive letters from the IRS. Ignoring the letters has never been a productive approach, but this change will make that even more true.
If you need help, call Senior Partner, Tax Controversy Attorney, and former IRS attorney Brandon A. Keim at (602) 200-7399 or contact him online to discuss your options.