The Internal Revenue Service on Monday said it would scale back policies that have been central to its decades-long effort to collect unpaid taxes and curb the practice of making surprise visits to workers’ homes and businesses amid mounting political backlash and intimidation of workers.
The change comes as the IRS undertakes a multi-billion dollar modernization project aimed at upgrading technology, strengthening tax law enforcement and improving customer service. This also coincides with increased scrutiny of the IRS, which faces criticism from Republicans over perceptions of political bias and from taxpayers who say its tactics are overly aggressive.
“This change is a common sense step as we reassess how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the public,” IRS Director Daniel Werfel said in a statement. “Changing this longstanding procedure will increase confidence in the work of the tax administration and improve the overall safety of taxpayers and IRS employees.”
As the agency seeks to take a more customer-focused approach to taxpayers, Republicans have fueled concerns that tax collectors are hiring 87,000 new employees to shake up small businesses and the middle class. The antipathy to the IRS makes the employee’s job even more dangerous. Last year, the agency launched a comprehensive security review after misinformation and false posts on social media led to threats to employees.
The IRS said on Monday that unannounced visits would continue only in a few “extraordinary” circumstances, and that appointment scheduling would normally be replaced by mail.
The agency routinely makes tens of thousands of unannounced visits to homes and businesses each year and will continue to visit only when subpoenas, subpoenas or seizures of assets are involved. These types of incidents typically occur in fewer than a few hundred per year, according to the IRS.
Approximately 2,000 employees unarmed revenue officer They usually make unannounced visits to discuss unpaid taxes or missing returns. We may visit without warning if we believe that a business may be delinquent in withheld employment taxes or to collect a debt.
Republicans have made it a priority to block the Biden administration’s plan to bolster the IRS with $80 billion as part of last year’s Control Inflation Act. They succeeded in cutting $1.4 billion in agency funding with the debt relief bill Congress passed in June, and reached a deal to recoup another $20 billion as part of a final budget deal lawmakers are expected to pass this year.
In recent months, lawmakers and anti-tax groups such as Americans, which calls for tax reform, have raised questions about unannounced visits by IRS officials. As an example of excess, they cite June’s raid on a gun store in Montana. Where agents seized personal information of gun owners and purchasers — and in April, agents visited investor Jeffrey Gundlach’s Florida office. Consequences of Clerical Mistakes.
Werfel suggested that the cessation of unannounced visits was a response to an epidemic of fraudsters posing as agents. This has caused more anxiety for taxpayers and more stress for revenue officials, he said.
“We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without adding to the stress of unannounced visits,” Werfel said, adding that improved analytics could help the agency meet its compliance goals. “The only losers in this policy change are scammers masquerading as the IRS.”
Tony Reardon, national president of the Treasury Staff Union, said he welcomed the decision to stop the unannounced field visits.
“The safety of IRS employees is paramount,” he said. “This decision will help protect people whose jobs have become increasingly dangerous in recent years due to false and inflammatory rhetoric about the IRS and its employees.”