The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun conducting face-to-face meetings with individual and business taxpayers as a part of a special compliance effort entitled Revenue Officer Compliance Sweep (ROCS). This is an extremely high priority effort where IRS field revenue officers (RO’s) will be working to resolve compliance issues, including missing tax returns and taxes owed, with a special emphasis on payroll taxes.
The RO’s will visit areas where there is little to no IRS presence. They will interview taxpayers while gathering financial information to help them become compliant now and remain so in the future. The new effort began Wisconsin, Texas, and Arkansas and will eventually rollout nationwide.
To avoid confusion with IRS scam artists and other imposters, the IRS will announce general details about these efforts in specific locations as an important step to raise community awareness around IRS activity during a specified time. Visits from IRS agents shouldn’t be confused as a scam. Here’s what to look for:
- Taxpayers may receive an appointment letter requesting certain information and providing an opportunity to call the IRS to set up an appointment prior to the visit.
- The first face-to-face contact from a RO will most likely be unannounced. Taxpayers should be aware they have a tax issue before they receive a visit from a RO because the IRS would have previously sent correspondence attempting to resolve the issue.
- When a RO visits a taxpayer, they will always provide two forms of official credentials, called a pocket commission and a HSPD-12 card. Both forms include a serial number and photo of the IRS employee.The HSPD-12 card is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for federal employees and contractors.
- Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials and can verify information on the RO’s HSPD-12 card by calling a dedicated IRS telephone number, provided by the RO, for verifying the information and confirming his or her identity.
- A legitimate RO is there to help taxpayers understand and meet their tax obligations, not to make threats or demand some unusual form of payment for a nonexistent liability. The RO will explain the liability to the taxpayer. Taxpayers may request the name and telephone number of the manager of the field revenue officer if they have any concerns.
- If the taxpayer has an outstanding federal tax debt, the visiting officer will request payment and provide a range of payment options, including a check payable to the U.S. Treasury.
When interacting with taxpayers, RO’s have the responsibility to educate the taxpayer about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR), identify economic hardships if there is an outstanding federal tax debt and payment creates a hardship, and advise and seriously consider collection alternatives.Taxpayers should be aware that RO’s may also consider other means of resolving the tax debt including:
- Setting up an installment agreement to allow the taxpayer to pay the bill over time;
- Recommending relief from penalties (when available) imposed when the tax bill is overdue (e.g., if there is reasonable cause) or recommending adjustment or abatement if the tax debt is in doubt;
- Evaluating whether the taxpayer is a good candidate for an offer in compromise, where the IRS would accept less than the full amount of the tax liability; or
- Suspending collection due to currently not collectible accounts, which could include Business Trust Fund Taxpayers.