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How to Know if the Knock on Your Door is Actually Someone from the IRS

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Rödl & Partner Tax Matters Vol 2017 – 13, published in November 2017

 

Unfortunately, many scams today involve people impersonating the IRS. Generally, the IRS does not contact a taxpayer in person. People can avoid falling victim to a scam though by knowing how and when the IRS does contact a taxpayer in person. This can help someone determine whether an individual is truly an IRS employee.

 

Here are eight things to know about in-person contacts from the IRS.
  • The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
  • There are special circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business. This includes:
    • When a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill
    • When the IRS needs to secure a delinquent tax return or a delinquent employment tax payment
    • To tour a business as part of an audit
    • As part of a criminal investigation
  • Revenue officers are IRS employees who work cases that involve an amount owed by a taxpayer or a delinquent tax return. Generally, home or business visits are unannounced.
    • IRS revenue officers carry two forms of official identification.  Both forms of ID have serial numbers. Taxpayers can ask to see both IDs.
    • The IRS can assign certain cases to private debt collectors. The IRS does this only after giving written notice to the taxpayer and any appointed representative. Private collection agencies will never visit a taxpayer at their home or business.
    • The IRS will not ask that a taxpayer makes a payment to anyone other than the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
    • IRS employees conducting audits may call taxpayers to set up appointments, but not without having first notified them by mail. Therefore, by the time the IRS visits a taxpayer at home, the taxpayer would be well aware of the audit.   
    • IRS criminal investigators may visit a taxpayer's home or business unannounced while conducting an investigation. However, these are federal law enforcement agents and they will not demand any sort of payment.

 

Taxpayers who believe they were visited by someone impersonating the IRS can visit IRS.gov for information about how to report it.

 

 

This publication contains general information and is not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal, tax or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, and it should not be acted on or relied upon or used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect you or your business. Consult your advisor.

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