The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may be heading to your house. Recently, the agency announced plans to make in-person visits to high-income taxpayers who have not filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years. Are you worried about a knock on your door? Here is what you need to know.
Taxpayers Who May Be Visited by the IRS
In the initial stages of the program, the IRS expects to visit about 800 taxpayers, and the agency is primarily targeting people who earn over $100,000 per year. If you are in this category, you should have already received numerous written notifications from the IRS.
Although the IRS has not explicitly announced taxpayer profiles beyond the earning threshold noted above, most of the comments delivered to the media about this program have come from the IRS Small Business/Self Employed Division. By extension, you may be more likely to receive a house call if you own a business or are self-employed.
IRS Employees Handling In-Person Visits
The IRS is sending revenue officers to handle these face-to-face visits. Revenue officers are civil enforcement agents who work for the IRS, focusing on compliance issues. They do not lead people away in handcuffs, and in fact, they don’t have any arresting power.
Instead, revenue officers provide taxpayers with guidance on how to become compliant, and they also conduct interviews to collect financial information. As needed, they can refer cases to the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
Home Visits and Tax Scams
Unfortunately, some scam artists may try to take advantage of this program. If anyone comes to your door, ask for ID — IRS revenue officers should have two forms of ID with their photos and serial numbers. Keep in mind that revenue officers do not make threats or demand unusual types of payment. They also don’t bring up non-existent liabilities.
For example, if someone comes to your home, doesn’t have an ID, and is trying to make you pay cash, they are a scam artist. Again, the IRS sends multiple letters before making these visits. If you have filed every year, don’t have unpaid taxes, and have not received any letters, you should not receive a visit from the IRS.
When Are IRS Home Visits Happening?
At the time of writing, the IRS plans to make home visits in February and March 2020, but the agency may decide to draw out the program. Some visits are scheduled, but many will be unannounced.
Reasons for IRS Home Visits
These home visits are intended to address the tax gap. This is the difference between the tax owed and the tax collected. On average, the tax gap is 15 to 18% of the country’s total tax liability, but only a portion of the gap is due to not filing returns. From 2008 to 2010, the tax gap was $458 billion, and $32 billion was due to non-filing.
What Should You Do If You Have Not Filed Yet?
If you have unfiled tax returns for 2018 or previous years, reach out to a tax professional who can help you complete and file those returns. Even if you don’t have the funds to pay, filing is still better than not filing. The IRS has numerous payment plans and relief options for delinquent taxpayers. Depending on your situation, you may even be able to eliminate failure-to-file penalties if you file quickly and request penalty relief.
Ideally, you should get into compliance before the agency finds you. Paul Mamo, Director of Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division, echoes this thought: “It is always worthwhile to take advantage of various methods of getting back into filing or payment compliance before being personally contacted by the IRS.”
Hank Kea, Director of Field Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division, also underscores the importance of taking care of delinquent returns: “Our continued use of ever-changing technologies, coupled with additional enforcement personnel, would suggest that waiting is not a viable option for delinquent taxpayers.”
To get help with unfiled returns, start with a free consultation today by calling 1-888-349-2116. We can connect you with a tax professional who can help you make the best decisions for your situation. Do not wait until the IRS knocks on your door — call today.