What Does It Mean If You Receive Form 9297?
If you receive Form 9297, it means that the IRS has assigned a revenue officer to your account. The revenue officer's job is to collect your tax debt or help you make payment arrangements. One of the first steps they take is to send Form 9297 to collect information about your income and assets.
The IRS uses this form to assess how you can pay your tax debt. If you don't respond, the revenue officer will look for other ways to pursue you. To get help, contact a local tax pro today.
What Is IRS Form 9297 (Summary of Taxpayer Contact)?
Form 9297 is called the Summary of Taxpayer Contact. It is a form that the IRS uses to collect financial information once the IRS assigns a revenue officer to your account. If you receive this form, an IRS employee is working on your case.
For most taxpayers, this is their initial contact with the revenue officer assigned to their case. This notice means that your account is no longer just floating around the IIRS automated collection system (ACS). Instead, it is handled by a real person, and when they go to work, they focus on collecting your unpaid taxes.
What Happens When the IRS Assigns a Revenue Officer to Your Case?
The revenue officer will try to reach you about your unpaid taxes. They may call you or send notices to you. In particular, they may send this form to request information, or they may have you provide this information over the phone. If they want to meet in person, they will send letter 725-B demanding that you schedule a meeting. As of 2023, officers will no longer come to your home or business without letting you know first. The IRS stopped unannounced visits in mid-2023.
If you don't make arrangements to pay your taxes, revenue officers can enforce collection actions against you. They may issue federal tax liens, start a wage garnishment, and levy assets, including your home. If a revenue officer is assigned to your case, you need to contact the IRS to take care of your outstanding tax liability.
IRS Revenue Officers Vs. Automated Collections
Generally, the IRS waits about four months before trying to collect your tax debt. If you haven't paid within four months, the agency routes your account to the Automated Collection System (ACS) or assigns it to a revenue officer. Sometimes, your account may start in the ACS and then get assigned to a revenue officer if you don't pay.
The IRS assigns most high-dollar cases to revenue officers, but these employees also handle the following types of situations:
- Taxpayers who haven't filed for several years.
- Taxpayers who have ignored phone calls or letters requesting more information.
- Individuals and businesses with a history of tax compliance issues.
- Businesses or individuals that owe payroll taxes or the trust fund recovery penalty.
It doesn't matter why the revenue officer was assigned to your case. If you've received Form 9297, an IRS employee is focused on your case. If you're dealing with the automated collection system, you can face liens and levies, but your case won’t get the level of scrutiny as with a revenue officer.
What Can an IRS Revenue Officer Do?
As indicated above, a revenue officer can take collection actions against you. However, they must follow the correct protocol. Here is an overview of the basics with links to more details:
- Issue Federal tax liens — If the automated system hasn't already issued a tax lien, the revenue officer will do so. Tax liens attach to your personal assets and give the IRS the legal rights to the proceeds (up to the amount of your balance plus collection costs) if you sell or borrow against your assets.
- Initiate Garnishment of Wages — The IRS can send a letter to your employer and have them send payments to the IRS out of your paycheck. The revenue officer must send you a notice 30 days before contacting your employer.
- Issue Tax Levies — A levy is when the IRS seizes your assets. Levies can include bank accounts, third-party payments, retirement accounts, and all of your real or personal property. The IRS agent must send you a notice outlining your rights to appeal at least 30 days before the levy takes place.
- Recommend tax fraud charges — If the IRS officer believes that you have committed tax fraud or evasion, they can recommend an investigation into your account. Tax fraud can lead to civil and criminal penalties and even jail time in very serious cases.
If a revenue officer has sent you a notice of intent to levy or started investigating you for tax fraud, reach out to a tax attorney for help. They can help you protect your assets
Your Rights When Working With a Revenue Officer
Revenue officers have a lot of power, but they still have to respect your rights. As a taxpayer, you have the following rights when dealing with revenue officers or the IRS in general:
- Information — You have the right to clear explanations and to be informed about decisions on your account.
- Quality Service — The revenue officer must be clear and polite. You shouldn't be mistreated because you owe back taxes.
- Correct Tax Account Balance — The IRS must apply penalties and interest correctly and credit the payments you make to your account. You should never have to pay more than you owe.
- Objection — You have the right to object if a revenue officer makes a decision that you don't agree with. If you disagree with a proposed collection action, you can request a managerial review. If you disagree with the manager, you have the right to appeal.
During the collection appeals process, you get to explain why you disagree with the IRS's actions. You also get to propose alternatives. To give you a simple example, imagine a revenue officer sending you a notice of intent to levy your wages. You appeal the wage garnishment, and during the appeals hearing, you request to make monthly payments on the tax debt.
Note that the IRS only allows taxpayers to appeal a single lien or levy for each tax period. To be safe, you may want to work with a tax professional.
Should You Contact a Tax Professional?
In most cases, you should contact a tax professional for help if you receive this form. But you don't necessarily have to. If you feel comfortable resolving the tax issue, you can fill out this form and work directly with the revenue officer to set up arrangements on your account.
However, if any of the following apply, you should contact a local tax professional for help:
- You don't know why the IRS sent you Form 9297.
- You don't think you really owe the tax bill. For instance, this may apply if you think that the IRS made a mistake during an audit or if the tax liability was due exclusively to your spouse or ex-spouse's actions.
- You disagree with the penalties shown on the account.
- You agree with the penalties but want to apply for relief based on reasonable cause or first-time penalties.
- You are worried that the revenue officer is going to pursue a tax levy against your wages or assets.
- You can't afford to pay the tax bill.
- You don't qualify for a payment plan because of past compliance issues.
- You feel like the revenue agent isn't respecting your rights.
You should also reach out for help if you're tired of dealing with the IRS. When you hire a tax attorney, a CPA, or an enrolled agent, they respond to notices and phone calls. You can resume living a peaceful life while your tax professional resolves your tax problems.
What If You Can't Afford to Pay Your Tax Liability
Receiving IRS notices when you can't afford to pay can be scary. Many people's first instinct is to ignore the notice. It's the worst thing you can do.
The IRS understands that people often can't afford to pay their entire tax liabilities, and the agency offers a range of options to help, including the following:
- Repayment Plan — This is when you make monthly payments on your tax debt. You can take up to six years to pay most tax liabilities.
- Partial Pay Plan — You make monthly payments until the collection statute expiration date. Then, the IRS settles the remaining balance.
- Offer in compromise (settlement) — If your collection information statement shows that you can't afford to pay the tax liability in full, the IRS may be willing to settle for less than you owe.
- Abating Penalties — If you qualify, penalty abatement reduces your balance owed. Then, you can apply for the above programs on the remaining balance.
This is just a brief overview of the options. When you contact a tax attorney, they'll help you find the best option for your situation.
Get Help With Form 9297 Today
If you've received Form 9297, you need to respond. You shouldn't ignore any IRS notices, but you shouldn't ignore them. To get help, reach out to a local tax pro today. Using TaxCure, you can search for local tax professionals in your area. Then you can narrow down your results to find pros with experience with your concern.
Most tax pros start with a free consultation about your tax problems. Then, they help you find the best resolution option for your situation. By working with a local pro, you get someone who understands IRS tax debt but is also familiar with your state's tax laws and collection processes.
Depending on the specifics, your tax pro can help you set up a payment plan so that you can avoid filling out this form. In other cases, they may direct you toward an offer in compromise, a partial payment plan, or another relief option. The best path depends on your unique situation. Don't risk facing garnishments, levies, or more penalties. Instead, use TaxCure to get help today.
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