New In-Person Meetings with Revenue Officers Aim to Encourage Compliance… But What Are the Risks?
On Nov. 15, 2019, the IRS announced a new compliance protocol that will involve deploying agents around the country to conduct face-to-face meetings with taxpayers. The IRS specified that these meetings will take place in communities where there have historically been a limited number of revenue officers, and thus aim to improve compliance efforts, ensure fairness in the tax system, and increase taxpayer access to educational resources. The primary goal of the meetings is to target ongoing compliance issues that had not been resolved through the mail or other avenues. Whether taxpayers had missing returns or taxes owed, the IRS aims to leverage these face-to-face meetings as an opportunity to conduct interviews, gather financial information, and determine the necessary steps to achieve proper compliance with the law.
Notably, the IRS clarified that the first of these face-to-face contacts from revenue officers will almost always come unannounced. While the IRS will be focusing resources in specific areas during specific times and announcing general details about the efforts in those communities to help raise awareness and avoid confusion, individual taxpayers will not be notified prior to the revenue officers making contact.
The decision to conduct these meetings at all, and especially to conduct these meetings unannounced, introduces an alarming risk to taxpayers. With IRS-related scams already rampant, this new avenue for enforcing compliance only increases the opportunities for imposters to try and defraud taxpayers. It is highly plausible that scam artists will be able to develop convincing forms of identification to gain access to taxpayers’ financial information through unannounced in-person meetings.
To protect yourself against these possible scams, it is paramount that you first understand your rights as a taxpayer. If requested, all IRS revenue officers must provide two forms of official credentials that display a serial number and photo identification. Additionally, the IRS is required to attempt to resolve any compliance issues with taxpayers through mail contact first; you should likely already be aware of any existing tax issues if a revenue officer is attempting to initiate a meeting in-person.
Regardless of these safeguards, if you are an Aprio client, you also have the right to decline these face-to-face meetings and direct any contact to Aprio. If you are contacted in person by any individual claiming to be a revenue officer, do not engage in conversation and do not provide any personal information beyond Aprio’s contact information. Try to obtain copies of the individual’s identification, and inform them to contact Aprio, who has power of attorney, for any further requests. Above all, be cautious!
If you believe you may have been the target of a scam, you can find additional information on identifying and reporting possible scams through the IRS. If you have any questions about this new process or if you have already been approached by a Revenue Officer, please contact Aprio as soon as possible.