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BEWARE - IRS to make personal visits to taxpayers

In an Information Release and Fact Sheet, IRS has announced that it is increasing the use of data analytics, research and new compliance strategies, including personal visits, to reach taxpayers and tax return preparers who have not filed federal tax returns.

Personal visits by IRS. Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel, IRS revenue officers (ROs) across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven't filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years. These visits are primarily aimed at informing these taxpayers of their tax filing and paying obligations and bringing these taxpayers into compliance.

IRS advises taxpayers that have delinquent filing or payment obligations that they should consult a competent tax advisor before waiting to be contacted by an RO.

IRS advice to help taxpayers know that visitor is really from IRS.  IRS notes that high-income taxpayers who will receive these visits have typically received numerous letters from IRS over an extended period of time, so they generally realize they have a tax issue.

Here's what to look for when a legitimate IRS RO makes a face-to-face visit:

...While most RO visits to a taxpayer are unannounced, ROs will always provide two forms of official credentials, both include a serial number and photo of the IRS employee. Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials.

...A legitimate RO will explain the liability to the taxpayer, along with the consequences of failing to comply with the law. The IRS employee will not make threats or demand an unusual form of payment for a nonexistent liability.

...Visits by ROs generally occur after numerous contacts by mail about an existing tax issue; taxpayers should be aware they have a tax issue when these visits occur.

...The RO will request payment and will provide a range of payment options, including paying by check made payable to the U.S. Treasury.

Other new IRS procedures. IRS also announced that it is using the following new ways to leverage existing processes and systems: 

• Increasing the identification and case creation for individual and business non-filers. New cases will be assigned to IRS employees for appropriate resolution. 

• Automated Substitute for Return program (ASFR). This affects individual taxpayers who have not filed tax returns, but whose available income information shared with IRS indicates a significant income tax liability. As part of the ASFR program, IRS sends notices to these taxpayers alerting them to the potential liability.

• Automated 6020(b) process. Promotes employment tax filing compliance by identifying business taxpayers with employment tax requirements who have not filed for a specific period.  

• Delinquent Return Refund Hold program (DRRH). Systemically holds an individual taxpayer's income tax refund when their account has at least one unfiled tax return within the five years surrounding that return. 

Where taxpayer refuses to pay.  IRS reminds taxpayers that it has a number of options available under the law when a taxpayer refuses to pay, ranging from a series of civil enforcement actions and, when appropriate, pursuing criminal cases against taxpayers. IRS says that its compliance personnel are also now working more closely with IRS criminal investigators on priority compliance issues, including high-income cases. 

Document Title:IRS announces new focus on non-filers (02/20/2020)
Checkpoint Source:Federal Tax Updates© 2020 Thomson Reuters/Tax & Accounting. All Rights Reserved.