Will the IRS show up at my door unannounced?
Scammers impersonating the IRS use mail, phone, and electronic means to take advantage of taxpayers. Some scammers have been brave enough to appear at a taxpayer’s home or place of business in person. The unscheduled appearance at the taxpayer’s home or office by someone claiming to be a collection officer from the IRS instilled a great deal of shock and fear in taxpayers as many times they had no idea why the IRS was showing up at their door.
An unannounced visit from someone claiming to be from the IRS also put taxpayers in a difficult position. Were the agent’s credentials real and the person truly an IRS collection officer? Was the person a scammer impersonating the IRS? What would happen if, fearing a scammer, the taxpayer ignored the agent and the person was truly an IRS collection officer?
The IRS agent making the unannounced visit also ran a risk. Taxpayers, in general, are not happy to receive a visit from the IRS. While most taxpayers would either speak to or ignore the IRS agent, there is no question that a minority of taxpayers have acted aggressively towards IRS collection officers who have shown up unexpectedly.
In order to reduce the confusion created by unscheduled IRS visits to taxpayers and to strengthen the safety of IRS collection officers and taxpayers, the IRS recently adopted a major policy change which ends most announced visits to taxpayers by IRS tax collection officers. Instead of the unannounced visit by a collection officer, the IRS will mail the taxpayer a letter scheduling an initial or follow up appointment with the taxpayer. The appointment letter will be designated as Form or Notice 725-B.
Unannounced visits by a collection officer will only occur in a few unique situations. Examples of the more common situations in which a collection officer will make an unannounced visit are: (1) serving a summons on a taxpayer, (2) serving a subpoena on a taxpayer and (3) seizing the taxpayer’s assets, especially if there is a risk that the taxpayer will place the assets beyond the reach of the IRS.
After the announcement of this new policy, you can now be confident that anyone who shows up at your door unexpectedly claiming to be the IRS is most likely a scammer unless your situation falls into one of the exceptions. Always remember, the IRS’s initial communication with you will be by US mail, not by text message, email, social media or phone.