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IRS ends unannounced visits due to worker safety, scammer concerns

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it is ending the practice of sending agents to make unannounced visits to taxpayers’ homes and businesses. According to the agency, agents have been making the visits for decades “to help taxpayers resolve their account balances by collecting unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns.”

In a news release announcing the end of unannounced visits, the IRS said there will be exceptions “in a few unique circumstances.” In most cases, in-person visits “will be replaced with mailed letters to schedule meetings.”

“We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a common-sense step,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. “Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees.”

The IRS said the ending of unannounced visits is “part of a larger effort to transform IRS operations” following passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022. The IRS experienced threats in response to the IRA, which gave the agency $80 billion to step up tax collections.

“The safety of IRS employees is of paramount importance and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce,” National Treasury Employees Union National President Tony Reardon said in a statement. “We applaud Commissioner Werfel’s quick action after hearing the safety concerns raised by NTEU leaders and IRS Field Collection employees who faced dangerous situations that put their safety at risk.”

The issue of unannounced IRS door knocks has been politically contentious. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Werfel and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in March, asking why journalist Matt Taibbi received an unannounced home visit from an IRS agent on the same day he gave testimony on Capitol Hill regarding his research into Twitter records.

The agency said an increase in scam artists posing as IRS agents had also created confusion.

“These visits created extra anxiety for taxpayers already wary of potential scam artists,” Werfel said. “At the same time, the uncertainty around what IRS employees faced when visiting these homes created stress for them as well. This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it.”

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THE I-R-S SAID IT’S ENDING A DECADES-OLD POLICY OF MAKING UNANNOUNCED VISITS TO HOMES AND BUSINESSES —
EXCEPT IN WHAT THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT CALLS ”A FEW UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES.”
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY — THE AGENCY WILL NOW **SCHEDULE ALL IN-PERSON MEETINGS IN ORDER TO COLLECT UNPAID BALANCES FOR TAXPAYERS.
THE MOVE IS PART OF AN EFFORT TO KEEP I-R-S WORKERS SAFE AND TO FIGHT AGAINST SCAMMERS WHO POSE AS I-R-S AGENTS.