If an IRS Employee/Agent Shows Up at Your Door

October 23, 2012  |  IRS revenue agent tax representation
If an IRS Employee/Agent Shows Up at Your Door
Ritva Williamson, CPA - Stephenson & Warner Inc.,

An increasing number of IRS employees/agents are showing up at taxpayers’ homes and businesses unannounced and unscheduled. The doorbell rings and there he or she is. What do you do? What to do? This can be very intimidating and unnerving to the taxpayer.

First, you need to be aware of the two types IRS employees/agents who might be at your doorsteps. One, an IRS Revenue Agent, also known as RA, or a Revenue Officer, and the other type is IRS Special Agent. The Special Agents tend to investigate tax offences and tax crimes. They carry badges and also carry guns and tend to travel in pairs. In these cases, say only one sentence, “I want a lawyer.” And, say nothing else.

In this blog we are discussing the IRS Revenue Agent/Officer visits and your rights and not the gun carrying Special Agents who are taking you “downtown.”

A Revenue Agent/Officer has limited powers and they are not law enforcement officers. They carry a plastic IRS ID cards and their job is to collect past due money from taxpayers. Typically, their job is to collect on larger cases rather than smaller cases, although not always the case. Their emphasis is on collecting unpaid payroll taxes. But, collecting on unpaid income taxes is not outside of their scope.

These agents also collect information on you. They assess where you live, how you live, and value of your assets. They like to barge their way in your residence. They ask questions and they want to pin you down then and there.  However, you are under no obligation to answer their questions, and in many instances, you may not even know the answers.   

Should you encounter this kind of unpleasant surprise, you should know that these Revenue Agents are not entitled to enter your residence unless you have a public area in your residence. How many private homes would have a public area?  So, just keep them away from entering your home and call your tax professional immediately. It’s very appropriate and within your rights to tell the agent that you will contact your CPA and you will be back shortly. He or she may not like it, but it’s your right to do so. You also may hand the phone to the agent after you reach your CPA or other professional and have the IRS agent talk with your CPA on the spot. If you don’t reach your CPA or your tax professional while the agent is there, you should do as follows: Be polite and you indicate that you will be getting representation, if you don’t already have a Power of Attorney with your CPA or other professionals authorized to deal with the IRS matter. You should request to see their ID card again, and please write down their name and ID number, and ask him or her to pencil a note regarding the tax matter, Form number and tax period(s) in question. If we, your CPAs, don’t have the information, we can’t prepare a valid Power of Attorney for you and the IRS, in most cases, will not talk to us.

Our staff at Stephenson and Warner is only a phone call away.