IRS Agents want to make sure you pay your fair share of taxes. This week IRS proved this by announcing the expansion of their available “in-person tax compliance visits.” This means more visits and more IRS agents in many far-flung cities than in previous years.
More IRS Agents and More Face-to-Face Time
If you have been reading the accounting blogs of Gavrilov & Co, you know we have been featuring different specialties within our tax and accounting purview. Most recently we show-cased financial, tax and business planning concerns for the medical community. This week, here in our Manhattan office, we are focusing on some more generalized news. It will undoubtedly affect you as you plan your taxes for 2019.
Accounting Today recently published the big news about more Face-To-Face visits. The special visits were hitherto unavailable in many parts of the country. However, they have already begun in Wisconsin. Soon Texas and Arkansas will also have more revenue officers visiting them. (And, as a side-note, Gavrilov & Co noticed that the new visiting IRS agents will especially emphasize payroll taxes. These will be conducted face-to-face with business owners.)
The IRS Show: Coming Soon To A Hometown Near You
It’s difficult to explain this new emphasis on in-person, face-to-face meetings by the IRS without sounding threatening. “The Revenuers are coming!” might be an overly alarming cry. We don’t want to fall into the old scary prototype of a bug-eyed Man in Black IRS Agent. In old myths and cartoons, the public feared such visiting agents. The stereotype cast IRS Agents as gougers who were intent on extracting money from innocent civilians.
On the contrary, Michael Cohn, the Editor-in-chief of a leading financial magazine, AccountingToday, put it this way, “The goal of the visits is to help resolve tax compliance issues by meeting face-to-face with taxpayers…” These are individuals “who have ongoing tax issues, such as payroll tax compliance for employers.”
What the IRS Agents Are Looking For?
Apparently, taxpayers have nothing to fear from these one-on-one encounters. You see, there are areas where only been a small number of “revenue officers available.” This was due to “declining IRS resources.” In many parts of the country, a face-to-face discussion with an IRS agent has been impossible. In recent months, however, the IRS has enjoyed increases in the operating budget. Likewise, they have expanded their staff. And now they feel prepared to “expand enforcement efforts.”
On this matter, Darren Guillot stated it this way. “Over the past several years, the IRS has had to make some tough budget decisions…” He continued, saying that this “has caused us to reduce our presence in certain areas of the country…” Since Darren Guillot is the deputy commissioner of collection and operations support in the IRS’s Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Division, he is an expert in this situation.
IRS and America: A Face to Face Outreach Mission
He also explained that “…our mission to collect taxes at the most efficient cost to the public does not change.” And he added, “One alternative strategy that we have been pursuing is how we could have a greater presence in the community given that our resources are limited.”
- Did you know that is some regions of the US, there are few or even no revenue officers?
- Did you know that an IRS Agent is a civil enforcement officer?
- These civil enforcement officers educate taxpayers.
- IRS agents also collect taxes as well as conducting civil investigations.
With more agents in more areas, the IRS hopes to make use of these employees, not only as tax enforcers but as educators of tax information.
An Educational Opportunity
The new program goes hand in hand with the IRS’s Private Debt Collection program. In the Private Debt Collection Program, the IRS agents work with contracted collection agencies. And yes, they call you if you owe longstanding debts on your taxes.
Guillot clarified, “These new visits that we’re doing outside involve teams of revenue officers traveling to locations where we have reduced resources or no resources…” And he added, their purpose is “to visit higher-risk cases involving larger balances due…” And Guillot clarified that these were “cases that have needed visits from a revenue officer for some time.”
A Community Outreach Opportunity
Guillot also wants to use the new face-to-face attention to enhance the IRS agent’s public image. He stated, “It’s not just the high balance due taxpayers. These expanded visits we’re doing are going to enable us to get into those communities and have that presence established. We think this is going to help us enhance a more balanced and fair administration of the tax laws.”
IRS Agents on the Job
As Gavrilov & Co suggested at the opening of this article, the new IRS teams of agents will place a major focus on unremitted payroll taxes. “In many cases, business owners have been withholding large amounts of employment taxes from their employees and not [sending] them over to the Treasury,” said Guillot.
That might shock some of our readers. However, it is true that such things happen. It might be a fraud. But it also could be some really sloppy bookkeeping and some terribly careless business and income planning.
Guillot wraps it up in a non-punitive way, saying, “It’s an extremely high priority. Our efforts are to try to get them into compliance when we meet with them face to face. We have data that proves this is an effective way of getting them to be compliant.” He added, “If the business becomes compliant, they continue to provide jobs for our citizens and that’s good for everybody.”
Watch out for Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Our tax squad at Gavrilov & Co is concerned that this new flock of visiting IRS Agents will make it easier for criminal impersonators to gain access to tax-payers. But the IRS is several steps ahead of the criminal impersonators already.
- One way they are outwitting the fakes is “by announcing general details about the efforts in specific areas.” Thus, the IRS agents plan to ignite community awareness about activity at a special and particular time.
- Hopefully, the media attention will discourage scammers at the time of critical visits. Usually, this means a team of twelve will establish identity in your town and go on individual taxpayer assignments.
- Now, check out this security. IRS agents who visit a taxpayer will always provide two forms of official credentials.
- Both of the required IDs will include a special serial number. Likewise, both will feature a photo of the IRS employee.
- Protect yourself by being aware you have the right to ask to view each of these valuable credentials.
Safety and Security: Face to Face
During the visit, you can expect the IRS agent to explain your tax liability. Normally, a Face-to-Face visit only happens after parties exchange numerous letters about the tax issue.
- If you do owe a federal tax debt, expect the visiting officer to provide several payment options.
- Yes, they will take a check, but only one written out payable to the U.S. Treasury, not to the agent.
So, heads-up, tax-payers, the IRS could be paying some very special visits to your hometown. And if you really want to absolve yourself of undue anxiety in Manhattan, contact the tax squad at Gavrilov & Co. We’ll help you be prepared this year and every year. This is true no matter how many IRS agents are paying special visits to your area.