When a taxpayer is contacted directly by a specific IRS agent assigned to collect past-due taxes from the taxpayer, that individual is called a Revenue Officer. Revenue Officers work within the laws and guidelines of the IRS to collect outstanding tax liability from a taxpayer, but compared to agents working in IRS call centers, they are given extraordinary power to investigate a taxpayer’s ability to pay.
Revenue Officers are based out of field offices across the United States and are assigned to taxpayers based upon physical proximity. Revenue Officers are assigned to “work in the field,” where they visit taxpayers, often without notice, at home or work to attempt to contact the taxpayer as well as to observe property.
When contacted by a Revenue Officer, a taxpayer should remember a few basic guidelines for interacting with him or her. If the taxpayer has retained representation (an authorized representative who has filed a Power of Attorney Form 2848 with the IRS), then the taxpayer should inform the Revenue Officer of the representation and provide the representative’s contact information if it is available. Once a Power of Attorney form is delivered to the IRS, a Revenue Officer will interact solely with the Power of Attorney representative.
If a taxpayer is not yet represented and must speak to the IRS Revenue Officer himself or herself, the taxpayer should remember three essential guideposts. First, be honest. It is illegal for a taxpayer to lie to an IRS agent about his tax or financial situation. However, it is also in a taxpayer’s best interest not to answer a question with too much extra information. Answer questions about your assets, income, and expenses honestly but without volunteering any extra information. The Revenue Officer will almost always require payment proposals to be in writing with a list of these calculations. Finally, be polite. Most Revenue Officers are just human beings trying to do their jobs. They don’t want to be adversarial, and they want to resolve the situation as quickly as the taxpayer does. A little bit of respect can go a long way.
When a taxpayer is assigned to a Revenue Officer, the taxpayer still has all the same rights as when he or she is being collected upon by the IRS generally. Access to Offers-in-Compromise, Currently Not Collectible, and tiered payment programs may still be available based upon a taxpayer’s individual situation. However, do not expect the Revenue Officer to volunteer which IRS program will result in the most favorable resolution for the tax situation. That is why the competence of a tax professional is usually the best move a taxpayer can make.
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