Monday, September 25, 2023
HomeEconomyIRS ends policy of surprise taxpayer visits by tax officials

IRS ends policy of surprise taxpayer visits by tax officials

Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) said on Monday it would end a policy of unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency tax officials, reversing a decades-old practice to “reduce public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees”.

“Unannounced visits will end immediately, except in a few exceptional circumstances, and will be replaced by mailed letters scheduling meetings,” the IRS said in a statement.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel announced the change as part of a larger effort to overhaul IRS operations following the passage of U.S. spending legislation called the Inflation Reduction Act last year and the development of a new IRS Strategic Operating Plan in April.

Werfel said “changes to this long-standing process will increase confidence in our tax administration work” and called the change “a step of common sense”.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NT, EU) backed the policy change and said it would help protect IRS officials whose jobs have been put at risk by “false, inflammatory statements about the agency and its employees.”

Wayfair also pointed to security concerns posed by these unannounced visits, saying they created “additional anxiety” for taxpayers.

Werfel said, “We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without the added stress of surprise visits.” He noted that funding under the Inflation Cut Act will add more staffing to compliance efforts.

Under the new policy, tax officials will contact taxpayers by appointment letter and schedule a follow-up meeting in lieu of unannounced visits.

The IRS notes that extremely limited raids still occur in cases such as subpoenas and service of process; and sensitive law enforcement activities involving the seizure of assets.

The number of such cases is fewer than a few hundred a year, a fraction of the tens of thousands of unannounced visits that typically occurred each year under the old policy, the IRS said.



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