Chances are if you’ve called the IRS with a routine problem or question, you’ve spoken with a telephone agent in their Help Center. They’re trained to handle routine tax matters and to answer your questions. They can direct you to other departments within the IRS if needed.
However, if you’re saddled with an unusually large tax debt, you’ll be interacting with a revenue officer who has the authority to initiate and pursue collection action against you.
Revenue Officer Vs. Revenue Agent
An IRS revenue agent conducts tax audits and establishes the amount of tax you will owe as a result of that audit. Disregard that tax debt or any other IRS debt or collection action, and chances are you’ll soon be interacting with a revenue officer. While revenue agents don’t have the authority to collect taxes, revenue officers do have that authority.
Who Are These Guys, Anyway?
Generally speaking, a revenue officer is a specially trained revenue agent that has the authority to initiate collection actions against you should you run afoul of the IRS. They have received additional training in the IRS’s power and reach when it comes to collecting back taxes.
Revenue officers have the authority to contact you by any means, including phone calls, home visits, or workplace visits. A revenue officer also has the authority to issue a notice to appear at tax hearings or meetings regarding your delinquent taxes.
When Do They Get Involved?
Revenue officers are considered the “big guns” in terms of IRS enforcement. You generally won’t be interacting with a revenue officer for an “average” past due tax bill. If your tax debt is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or if you have a track record of non-payment, then chances are you will be dealing with a revenue officer. The same holds true if you’re a habitual non-filer.
How To Interact With a Revenue Officer
Revenue officers have received additional training regarding tax code, tax law, and how to communicate more effectively with taxpayers. They have also received additional training in proper collection procedures, and part of this training involves learning to work with delinquent tax payers.
If an IRS revenue officer ever contacts you regarding your taxes, don’t panic (as hard as that may be). Remember you have the right to consult a tax attorney to assist you. Keep in mind that an IRS revenue officer does not have the authority to arrest you or audit you. If you are facing IRS collection, it is important to work out a repayment plan with the revenue officer.
Hearing from an IRS revenue officer is never at the top of anyone’s bucket list. If you have a sizable tax debt or a habitual non-filer, chances are you’ll hear from a revenue officer. While they don’t have the authority to make an arrest or to conduct an audit, they do have the power to collect back taxes.
By understanding the scope and limitations of a revenue agent’s role, you’ll be better equipped to respond appropriately if and when you do hear from them.