The IRS has announced that they are beginning to send revenue officers directly to the homes of taxpayers with unfiled tax returns. How do you know if you should be expecting a visit, and what can you do about it?
Last month, the IRS released an information sheet addressing new tactics they’ll be employing in regards to unfiled tax returns. While the fact sheet addressed several new strategies, the primary focus was on the more direct approach they’ll take with non-filers. Namely, the IRS will begin sending revenue officers (ROs) directly to the homes of individuals who haven’t filed. If you have unfiled returns, it’s important that you’re familiar with this new strategy and what it means for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the IRS has said about this strategy, and if you have unfiled returns, please contact our CPAs for assistance with filing as soon as you possibly can.
Who Will Be Getting a Visit?
According to the IRS, their primary focus will be on high-income earners with unfiled returns from 2018 or earlier. However, a visit from an RO won’t be the first time you’re hearing from the IRS about your non-filer status. You will have received numerous written notices from them regarding your unfiled returns. So, if you have a higher income, have unfiled returns from 2018 or earlier, and have been contacted by the IRS about those returns previously, it is very likely that an RO will come to your door.
It is also important to be aware that the IRS will not call and try to schedule an appointment with you. These in-person visits will typically be unannounced.
Recognizing a Legitimate RO
The IRS also acknowledged in their information sheet that this strategy does open up the opportunity for tax scammers to take try to take advantage of taxpayers. So, it’s incredibly important that all taxpayers be informed and aware of the IRS’s new enforcement strategy, as well as how to discern a legitimate RO visit from a fraud. Here are a few things that will indicate the person at your door is an actual IRS officer.
1. As already mentioned, an RO at your door won’t be the first time you’re hearing about those unfiled tax returns. If you haven’t received any mailers about your taxes in the past—and, of course, if you’re confident you’ve filed and paid all your taxes—then you can feel confident that you’re facing a scam.
2. Ask to see their credentials. Every IRS revenue officer is required to have at least two forms of credentials on them, and you have the right to see both of them. Both of their credentials should include a serial number and a photo of the officer. If the individual cannot produce two forms of credentials, or if their credentials do not meet the criteria described above, close the door.
3. An IRS employee will never threaten you regarding your tax debt. The goal of an in-person visit should be to inform you of your tax obligations, provide options for dealing with the issue, and explain possible consequences of non-compliance. There is a very real difference between this and making threats, and if they’re doing the latter, they are not working for the IRS.
4. An RO can and likely will request payment from you for your unpaid taxes. However, they will never request an unusual form of payment or a payment made directly to them. They should offer you multiple payment options, including a check made out to the U.S. Treasury. If they refuse to accept this kind of payment or only give you one payment option, they’re not an RO.
You should never hesitate to thoroughly question someone at your door who is claiming to be from the IRS. Being informed on these matters and ensuring you are speaking to a valid RO is the best way you can protect yourself from a tax scam.
The DRRH Program
We also want our clients to be aware of a new program the IRS introduced in their information sheet. The Delinquent Return Refund Hold (DRRH) program allows the IRS to retain any refunds that you’re owed if you have unfiled tax returns within a five-year span of that tax year. So, if you are expecting a refund when you file this year, it’s imperative that you also file any delinquent returns from the last five years; otherwise, the IRS may hold your refund until those taxes are filed and paid for.
Take Action Now
You shouldn’t wait for an RO to come knocking before you take care of your unfiled returns. If you know that you have tax returns that were not filed in the past, please reach out to us right away. We can help you get those delinquent returns filed as quickly as possible and help you to address your back taxes so that you can avoid an unpleasant visit from an IRS employee. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.