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IRS to End Unannounced Visits

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Jul 24, 2023

In a policy change aimed at protecting the safety of its employees and of taxpayers, the IRS will no longer make unannounced visits to taxpayers’ homes, the agency announced.

Unannounced visits, which have been deployed by the IRS for decades as a tool to collect unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns, will be mostly replaced by mailed letters to schedule meetings “except in a few unique circumstances.” The safety issues include the increased confusion on the part of taxpayers caused by scam artists posing as IRS agents, and the increased incidences of assaults on agents by surprised taxpayers.  

"These visits created extra anxiety for taxpayers already wary of potential scam artists," IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said. "At the same time, the uncertainty around what IRS employees faced when visiting these homes created stress for them as well. This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it."

The IRS stated that instead of unannounced visits, "revenue officers will ... make contact with taxpayers through an appointment letter, known as a 725-B, and schedule a follow-up meeting. This will help taxpayers feel more prepared when it is time to meet. Taxpayers whose cases are assigned to a revenue officer will now be able to schedule face-to-face meetings at a set place and time, with the necessary information and documents in hand to reach resolution of their cases more quickly and eliminate the burden of multiple future meetings."

The IRS also noted that "there will still be extremely limited situations where unannounced visits will occur. These rare instances include service of summonses and subpoenas; and also sensitive enforcement activities involving seizure of assets, especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of the government. To put this in perspective, these types of situations typically number less than a few hundred each year—a small fraction compared to the tens of thousands of unannounced visits that typically occurred annually under the old policy."

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) welcomed the decision to end the policy. "The safety of IRS employees is of paramount importance, and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon, referring to some congressional Republicans’ false claims that the IRS will use its increased funding to hire more armed agents. “We applaud Commissioner Werfel's quick action after hearing the safety concerns raised by NTEU leaders and IRS Field Collection employees who faced dangerous situations that put their safety at risk. We look forward to working with the IRS on this and other actions to protect the safety of all IRS employees."

An IRS spokesman predicted that ending the policy will be a recruitment incentive for potential employees. “These are some of the hardest jobs in government. … There is a better way of doing it,” IRS spokesman Terry Lemons said in a statement reported by The Washington Post. “Another advantage is that if people have a greater sense of safety and security, that will help us bring good people into the agency.”

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