While their roles include education and investigation, IRS revenue officers are also tasked with collecting from individuals and businesses and can make unannounced visits to “discuss taxes owed or returns due.” A surprise visit from the Internal Revenue Service can be stressful enough, but how do you know the person knocking on your door is really with the IRS? In this age of phone and in-person scams, it is important to make sure the person (or people in some cases) you are meeting with is who he says he is. The best way to start is to be aware of the identification revenue officers are required to present, and to understand what a true representative of the IRS will not do:
- IRS representatives will provide two forms of official credentials called a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card. Upon your request, the representative is also required to provide you with a dedicated IRS phone number to verify his or her identity.
- The IRS representative, whether on the phone or in-person, will not make threats like revoking your business license, immigration status, or driver’s license if payment is not immediately made.
- A true IRS representative will not demand immediate payment with a pre-paid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. The only payment he or she will request is to the U.S. Treasury.
- Typically, the first step the IRS takes with a taxpayer who owes taxes is to mail a bill.
There are defined roles within the IRS for representatives you may not know about. IRS revenue officers work for IRS field collection offices, and like the description implies, collect money. They are the ones who may stop by unannounced. Revenue agents are employed by the IRS to audit taxpayers and will typically set up an agreed-upon time to meet, often after a notice has been mailed. IRS criminal investigators will also visit without notice, carry federal law enforcement credentials including a badge, and will not demand payment.
Please check out the links below to better understand your rights if an unexpected call (whether on the phone or in-person) from someone claiming to be an IRS representative does occur, and how to determine if it is a scam.