A male IRS Revenue Officer sits at a desk pointing at official IRS documents.

Assigned an IRS Revenue Officer? Here's What to Expect

You’re relaxing on your couch after a long day at work. Suddenly, you hear an unexpected knock on your door – is it your neighbor, an old friend, or a salesperson? No. It’s your IRS Revenue Officer, and they want to know why you’ve been ignoring the notices they’ve mailed you.

Fortunately for taxpayers, in 2023 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ended unannounced visits in all but the most egregious of tax cases. They can no longer show up at your door without notice – unless you’re being summoned, subpoenaed, or having your assets seized.

However, IRS Revenue Officers are still formidable tax collectors with a potent mix of collection tools at their disposal – they can place levies and liens on your property, and initiate the process to seize your assets. They can investigate your whereabouts, monitor your credit transactions, and speak to your neighbors and employers if you continue to ignore them. If the IRS has assigned a Revenue Officer to your case, it’s time to get serious about resolving your tax issues and paying off your debts, as they will take bold actions that could prove financially devastating.

Do not ignore notices and phone calls from an IRS Revenue Officer. Respond immediately and cooperate with their requests. Seek help from a trusted tax professional who can represent you before the officer, plan a strategic defense, and achieve the best possible resolution for you. Only with an experienced representative by your side will you have the best chance of holding on to your hard-earned money, assets, and peace of mind.

What Is an IRS Revenue Officer?

An IRS Revenue Officer is a highly-trained case worker who collects tax debt from people who owe significant back taxes. They are unarmed public servants who contact and meet with individual taxpayers and businesses to resolve unpaid balances, obtain unfiled tax returns, and if necessary, take collections actions.

Revenue Officers are employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). State-level tax agencies also employ Revenue Officers but may refer to them by different titles, such as Tax Collector or Tax Examiner.

What Is the Difference Between a Revenue Officer and Revenue Agent?

Revenue Officers and Revenue Agents have different responsibilities and authorities in the tax collection process. Revenue Agents are responsible for auditing or examining businesses and individual taxpayers to assess tax liability. Revenue Officers are responsible for collecting outstanding tax liability and have the authority to use levies, liens, and asset seizures to accomplish their goal.

Dealing With IRS Revenue Officers: Step-by-Step Guide

Before you begin dealing with an IRS Revenue Officer, it’s important to understand their function in the tax collection process. Revenue Officers are typically assigned to cases with $100,000 or more of outstanding tax liability. At this point, the IRS has already made many attempts to contact you through the Automated Collections System (ACS) – the call center that sends computer-generated balance due notices and fields taxpayer inquiries. If you haven’t responded to these notices, the IRS may suspect you are willfully evading them.

The Revenue Officer’s only goal is to collect your tax debt. To accomplish this, they will first attempt to work with you to reach an agreeable resolution. However, if you do not cooperate, they can garnish your wages, empty your bank accounts, and eventually seize your property.

Establish a respectful and cooperative relationship with the Revenue Officer from the outset. While they may seem like unyielding adversaries, these agents are still human beings, and a little kindness and empathy can go a long way. Be polite, and responsive, and demonstrate a genuine willingness to work with them to resolve your tax issues. This approach is far more likely to yield favorable results than a confrontational attitude or elusive tactics.

How to Tell You’ve Been Assigned a Revenue Officer

If the IRS assigns a Revenue Officer to your case, the notices you receive in the mail will be addressed from the officer’s name, rather than the ACS. At this point, your case has moved past the collections phase. The IRS is no longer asking you to pay your tax liability – they are investigating your financial life to determine what you can afford to pay them.

Why a Revenue Officer Is Assigned to Your Case

The IRS will assign a Revenue Officer to your case for many different reasons, but nearly all of these cases have one thing in common – they owe a significant amount of tax debt.

Here are the common reasons that an IRS Revenue Officer is assigned to your case:

  • You owe significant back taxes, often over $100,000 but may be less in many cases
  • You failed to file tax returns for several years
  • Your business fell behind on payroll tax deposits
  • You did not respond to previous IRS collection notices
  • Your case was not resolved through the Automated Collection System (ACS)
  • You did not meet tax filing and payment requirements over multiple years

The Power of Revenue Officers

To effectively deal with Revenue Officers, you must know they are highly skilled investigators with unfettered access to your financial records. They can painstakingly examine your finances for up to six years prior and observe your ongoing transactions.

They can find out if you rent or own your home, the amount of equity you have in your mortgage, and whether or not you own vehicles and other assets. They can monitor your bank accounts, view your total balances, and assess the necessity of your purchases. If you spend money on non-essential items or luxury living expenses, they will use this information against you in any potential resolution negotiation.

What Happens When the IRS Assigns a Revenue Officer?

When the IRS assigns a Revenue Officer to your case, they will try to set up a meeting with you, either in person or over the phone, and ask you to provide financial information including Form 433-A. Your cooperation at this stage is critical. If you fail to respond within 30 days, refuse to meet, or don’t cooperate with the officer’s requests, the IRS will charge additional penalties and interest. Eventually, they can begin extracting your money using a variety of legal methods.

Once you begin receiving notices from a Revenue Officer, you typically have 30 days to respond before collections actions are initiated.

IRS Form 433-A: Collection Information Statement

Your Revenue Officer will ask you to complete IRS Form 433-A, Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals. This form provides the Revenue Officer with details about your financial situation – income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The officer will use this information to calculate how much you can afford to pay the IRS immediately or over time.

Be completely honest and transparent when filling out Form 433-A. Your Revenue Officer can already access much of the information through the IRS database, and they can request you provide evidence to substantiate the information – especially if the living expenses you claim are above the standard cost of living in your locality. This form provides the IRS with information they cannot access, building a comprehensive picture of your financial life.

To achieve the best resolution, it’s crucial to provide the Revenue Officer with all the requested documentation, including Form 433-A, in a timely and organized manner. Anything less may be seen as an attempt to obstruct their investigation, which will only make your situation worse.

Meeting With Your IRS Officer

At the meeting, IRS Revenue Officers want to discuss your financial situation and understand why you have unpaid taxes or unfiled returns. The important thing to remember at this phase is that the Revenue Officer can already see the paper trail of your financial life, so it’s in your best interest to be honest and transparent. Answer all their questions but do not provide extra details.

They will use the information they have gathered to propose a resolution that results in you paying off your tax liability – either immediately or slowly over time. Typically, you will have the opportunity to negotiate their proposal and voice any concerns you have.

Reaching a Tax Resolution

The first thing that the IRS will look for is liquidity. If you have money in various accounts – checking, savings, investment, or retirement – they will ask you to withdraw it and pay your tax liability. If you refuse, they could initiate the process to seize those accounts.

Next, the Revenue Officer will examine your assets. If you own valuable assets and don’t have the liquidity to cover a significant portion of your liability, the officer can ask you to sell some of your assets to cover the debt. If you refuse, they could initiate the process to seize your assets.

If you don’t have assets or liquidity, the Revenue Officer will then examine your income and expenses to determine how much money you can realistically afford to pay each month. Their determinations are based on IRS standards for allowable living expenses which vary by zip code and household size. If you spend more money than the IRS deems necessary, they will expect you to adjust your spending habits in order to pay the tax liability.

This is when working with a trusted tax professional becomes extremely beneficial. A tax attorney or IRS-Enrolled Agent can represent you before the Revenue Officer and reach a better resolution for you.

Conclusion

Once your case reaches a Revenue Officer’s desk, it’s time to turn over a new leaf and begin resolving your tax issues. If you don’t respond or refuse to cooperate with the officer, devastating consequences could be imminent, from wage garnishments to asset seizures.

You will certainly reach a more favorable resolution with an experienced tax expert by your side. A trusted tax professional knows precisely how to navigate the complexities of the tax code, communicate effectively with your Revenue Officer, and work tirelessly to negotiate a compromise that minimizes your financial damage.

If you received a notice from an IRS Revenue Officer, take a moment to complete our brief survey to determine if you may qualify for IRS relief programs that could help resolve your tax debt. Don’t let an IRS Revenue Officer destroy your financial future – contact TaxRise today.

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Revenue Officer FAQs:

IRS Revenue Officers are not law enforcement officers. They are unarmed civil enforcement employees who work with taxpayers to collect outstanding tax liability or unfiled tax returns. Revenue Officers investigate taxpayers’ financial situations, educate taxpayers on becoming compliant with IRS regulations, and when necessary, take enforcement actions to collect past-due balances.

In some cases, IRS Revenue Officers will call taxpayers to confirm their information before making appointments and taking enforcement actions. Before receiving any phone calls, taxpayers should have received letters establishing a relationship with the Revenue Officer. Beware of cold calls from anyone claiming to be an IRS employee with whom you haven’t previously established contact.

In 2023, the IRS ended most unannounced visits to taxpayer residences. There are extremely limited situations where a Revenue Officer would show up at your house unannounced, with the exceptions occurring to serve summons and subpoenas and conduct asset seizures.
Prior to any potential unannounced visit, the Revenue Officer will have made numerous attempts to contact you by mail and schedule a meeting with you, starting with appointment letter 725-B. This allows you to schedule a meeting at a set place and time, facilitating more efficient communication and reducing the number of follow-up meetings.

Be open and honest with your Revenue Officer about what you can afford to pay, but do not reveal details that are beyond the scope of their questions. These IRS officers are gathering details about your financial life to determine what you can afford to pay immediately – and in the future.

However, IRS records already show most of the information they need. They will likely understand any financial hardships you may be facing, and several different repayment programs can help you avoid further hardship. To successfully negotiate with a Revenue Officer, seek professional assistance from a trusted tax expert.

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