Will the IRS come to my home or Business?

In the past I have warned about scammers who impersonate the IRS. I address this issue again because just a few weeks ago a friend called me saying an individual claiming to be from the IRS walked into the office, without prior notice, demanding income tax returns for the business and the business owners. Thankfully my friend refused to turn over the requested documents. The question remains, however, as to whether the IRS can come to your home or place of business and demand tax returns or the payment of taxes.

The IRS advises taxpayers that collection officers and revenue agents can, and sometimes do, make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business under special circumstances. These are when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, when a taxpayer has failed to file tax returns, to tour a business as part of an audit, or as part of a criminal investigation. However, the taxpayer will generally have received a letter or notice in the mail that a tax is owed, a return is delinquent or that the taxpayer’s return has been chosen for audit. This notification will not be e-mailed, faxed, sent by text or social media or hand delivered, but will come by regular mail delivered by the US Postal Service.

If the taxpayer does not take action after receiving notification that a return has not been filed or that taxes are outstanding, a revenue officer may make an unannounced visit to the taxpayer’s home or place of business. The IRS collection officer, however, will not demand immediate payment of any taxes without first affording the taxpayer the opportunity to question the amount sought to be collected and explaining available payment options. No payment other than one to the “United States Treasury” will be demanded or accepted.

An IRS revenue agent who is conducting an audit may contact a taxpayer by phone to set up an appointment, but not without first having notified the taxpayer by regular mail. If the IRS is conducting a criminal investigation, generally, the taxpayer will not know there is an ongoing investigation until the IRS special agent shows up at the taxpayer’s home or place of business. Should that happen the taxpayer should say nothing to the agent without an attorney. An IRS special agent will never demand money from the taxpayer.

In the event someone claiming to be from the IRS shows up at your door you have the right to ask the person to provide their official credentials (also known as a pocket commission) and their HSPD-12 card which is a government identification card. Both of these forms of identification have serial numbers and photos of the employee. In addition, if you want to verify the information on the HSPD-12 card you can ask the agent for the dedicated IRS toll-free phone number for verifying the information and confirming the identity of the employee.


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