As part of a bigger plan to ensure compliance and fairness, the Internal Revenue Service said it will increase efforts to visit high-income taxpayers who in prior years have failed to timely file one or more of their tax returns.
Following the recent and ongoing hiring of additional enforcement personnel, IRS revenue officers across the country will increase face-to-face visits with high-income taxpayers who haven’t filed tax returns in 2018 or previous years, according to an IRS news release. These visits are typically aimed at informing these taxpayers of their tax filing and paying obligations and bringing these taxpayers into compliance.
“The IRS is committed to fairness in the tax system, and we want to remind people across all income categories that they need to file their taxes,” said Paul Mamo, director of Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division via the news release. “These visits focusing on high-income taxpayers will be taking place across the country. We want to ensure taxpayers know their options to get right with their taxes and avoid bigger issues later.”
For the current tax season, the IRS reminds taxpayers everyone should file their 2019 tax return by the April 15 filing deadline regardless of whether they can pay in full. Six-month filing extensions are also available, although that does not extend the April deadline for paying any taxes owed.
“Taxpayers having delinquent filing or payment obligations should consult a competent tax advisor before waiting to be contacted by an IRS revenue officer,” Mamo said further in the news release. “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.”
For the new visits taking place, high-income non-filers taxpayers are those who generally received income in excess of $100,000 during a tax year and did not file a tax return with the IRS. Taxpayers who exercise their best efforts in filing their tax returns and paying or entering into agreements to pay their taxes deserve to know that the IRS is aggressively pursuing others who have failed to satisfy their filing and payment obligations.
During the visits, IRS revenue officers will share information and work with the taxpayer to hopefully resolve the tax issue.
How to Pay
There are many payment options for people having trouble paying their tax bills. Payment plans can be set up quickly online, the IRS said in the news release.
Once returns are filed or an assessment occurs, there are various online payment options available at IRS.gov, including direct pay through a bank account or using a debit or credit card. Other ways to pay include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (best option for businesses or large payments; enrollment required), Electronic Funds Withdrawal (using during e-filing), same-day wire (bank fees may apply), check or money order or cash (at a participating retail partner). Those who can’t pay immediately may be able to meet their tax obligation in monthly installments by applying for a payment plan (including installment agreements and those who owe less than $50,000), they can find out if they qualify for an offer in compromise (a way to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount), or request that the IRS temporarily delay collection until their financial situation improves.
For those who refuse to pay, the IRS has a number of options available under the law, ranging from a series of civil enforcement actions and, when appropriate, pursuing criminal cases against taxpayers. IRS compliance personnel are also now working more closely with IRS criminal investigators on priority compliance issues, including high-income cases, it added in the news release.
“These compliance visits underscore the importance of people filing their taxes this April, even if they can’t pay the full amount of tax due,” said Hank Kea, director of Field Collection Operations, Small Business/Self Employed Division in the same news release. “Not filing because you don’t believe you can pay at the time of filing makes the problem worse, as interest and penalties mount over time. We have many payment options available on IRS.gov to help taxpayers. It’s better to work on these issues upfront rather than ignoring it and ultimately getting to the point of the IRS taking more serious action. Our continued use of ever-changing technologies, coupled with additional enforcement personnel, would suggest that waiting is not a viable option for delinquent taxpayers.”
What’s a Revenue Officer’s Job?
Revenue officers are trained IRS civil enforcement employees who work to resolve compliance issues, such as missing returns or taxes owed. Revenue officers conduct interviews to gather financial information and provide taxpayers with the necessary steps to become and remain compliant with the law. When necessary, they will take the appropriate enforcement actions to collect the amount owed, following the law while respecting taxpayer rights and following the law, according to the news release.
Don’t be Confused: Visits Are Not a Scam
For this new initiative, these high-income taxpayers have typically received numerous letters from the IRS over an extended period of time, so they generally realize they have a tax issue.
Revenue officer visits shouldn’t be confused with scams. Here’s what the IRS said to look for:
- While most IRS revenue officer visits to a taxpayer are unannounced, they 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 revenue officer helps taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations. The officer 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 nor demand an unusual form of payment for a nonexistent liability.
- Visits by revenue officers 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.
- If someone has an outstanding federal tax debt, the visiting officer will request payment but will provide a range of options, including paying by check written to the United States Treasury.
More information on identifying legitimate IRS representatives and how to report scams can be found at IRS.gov.