Need Revenue Officer Assistance? Call a Tax Attorney
If the IRS has informed you that a revenue officer has been assigned to collect your tax debt, it’s imperative that you reach out to a law firm with extensive IRS experience. IRS revenue officers are tax enforcement professionals with the authority to take assets, freeze bank accounts, and much more. Being assigned a revenue officer is a serious matter, and you should seek IRS revenue officer assistance as soon as possible.
To better understand how to deal with IRS revenue officers, it helps to know what they can and cannot do, and why they are assigned to your case.
When Is an IRS Revenue Officer Assigned to a Case?
The IRS assigns a revenue officer to a case when the person responsible for paying taxes has not responded to other forms of contact. The IRS almost always tries collecting via phone calls, letters, or email. The IRS is often willing to negotiate a payment plan and can even reduce the tax you owe to encourage payment. However, if you, or the person acting on your behalf, has ignored these opportunities, a revenue officer may be sent out.
When dealing with a revenue officer, it is in your best interest to have a lawyer present. Without professional representation, the revenue officer has the advantage.
What Can IRS Revenue Officers Do?
IRS revenue officers have one primary job: collect unpaid taxes. When an IRS revenue officer is assigned to your case, it means that you have tax debt that the IRS has not been able to collect by more traditional means. IRS revenue officers have a great deal of authority and can perform several functions to collect back taxes. However, it’s important to know your rights when dealing with an IRS revenue officer.
Revenue officers are allowed to interview taxpayers in order to gather information about their tax liabilities. When a business has tax problems, revenue officers may interview multiple people in the company. Most commonly, revenue officers will speak with the company’s certified public accountants to better understand why there are outstanding tax returns or why the company has not paid its taxes. The revenue officer can make requests for information, including business records or bank account details.
IRS revenue officers frequently interview managers or business owners to determine if there is any intent to defraud the IRS. Be aware that what you say to an IRS revenue officer can be used against you. It’s in your best interest to have a tax professional with you or a lawyer present to avoid accidentally incriminating yourself or others in your business.
Perform a Field Audit
An IRS revenue officer does not have to announce a visit in advance. They may simply appear at your business or home to conduct a field audit. Field audits look for evidence of fraudulent or negligent accounting practices by reviewing your financial data and taking stock of your property and other assets.
You should always have a lawyer present if an IRS revenue officer arrives to perform an audit in person. As these visits are usually a surprise, your first move should be to contact a lawyer.
Reorganize Tax Debt
Most revenue officers will give you the opportunity to pay taxes owed to the government without seizing property or taking money directly out of your account. If you are able to pay your taxes from delinquent tax returns, the IRS would prefer to handle matters without resorting to more aggressive tactics. Your IRS revenue officer may be able to create a payment plan that allows you to pay your debt over time.
Fees and interest that you have accumulated, in addition to your existing tax liability, will be included in the payment plan. Fees and interest continue to accrue while you make your payments. However, a payment plan is preferable to the IRS putting a lien on your property or seizing money from your personal or business account.
Garnish Wages and Seize Assets
If your IRS revenue officer determines that you are unable to pay what you owe to the government, even with a payment plan, then they can force you to comply by taking property or money. Your total tax liability is weighed against the value of your assets, and tax levies are used to legally seize items of value. For example, businesses could lose land and the buildings on it, or valuable equipment. Anything the IRS can resell can be taken.
When an individual taxpayer is under investigation, an IRS revenue officer can order that their wages be garnished. This means that a portion or even all of your wages from your job can be sent directly to the IRS to recover unpaid taxes. The IRS can also levy your house or vehicle to resolve your tax liability.
What Can’t an IRS Revenue Officer Do?
Although an IRS revenue officer can do many things, there are limits to their authority. Revenue officers are not part of the IRS criminal investigation division, though they can refer your case to criminal investigation if they believe that they have found evidence of an attempt to defraud the government, your workers, or your clients.
Consider some of the things that a revenue officer cannot do when collecting taxes from taxpayers.
Perform a Full Audit
Although a revenue officer can perform a field audit, they cannot perform a complete audit alone. There are other IRS employees, namely revenue agents, whose job is to perform thorough audits of companies and individual taxpayers via correspondence. An IRS revenue agent works directly with your tax professionals to determine exactly what you owe.
A revenue agent typically works with a revenue officer on the same case. In some situations, a revenue officer is only deployed when a revenue agent has finished reviewing your tax liability and has been unsuccessful in collecting your debt. In other cases, revenue agents may be brought in after a revenue officer performs a field audit.
Neither revenue officers nor revenue agents may use force when collecting from taxpayers. Special agents from the criminal investigation division have this privilege. However, a revenue officer can ask a police officer to assist them with a seizure if they believe that there is potential for resistance from a taxpayer or business.
Just as a revenue officer cannot use force, they cannot make arrests. Generally, the IRS requires an agent from the criminal investigation division to make an arrest related to tax crimes. The IRS can ask local law enforcement officers for aid if necessary.
How Can a Tax Attorney Help You Deal With the IRS?
Having a revenue officer sent out is a serious matter. Small mistakes can turn into major legal issues if you aren’t careful. Nevertheless, the presence of a revenue officer does not mean that all is lost. You may still be able to negotiate with the IRS and reach an agreement. However, you will need the help of a lawyer. A lawyer can protect you and your company from potential criminal charges while dealing with the revenue officer on your behalf.
Lawyers Protect Clients from Criminal Charges
When a revenue officer investigates you, they can refer your case to the criminal investigation division. For instance, a revenue officer may find irregularities that could constitute fraud, such as undeclared items of value. Oftentimes, these criminal charges never amount to any actual legal action, but they may be used to intimidate you or coerce you into an agreement.
Having a lawyer with you will let the IRS know that you are taking the case seriously. Dealing with a lawyer is very different from dealing with the average citizen. Even if the IRS does decide to press charges and your case proceeds to trial, your lawyer can defend you, negotiate a deal on your behalf to avoid jail time, or perhaps exonerate you completely.
Lawyers Help You Correct Mistakes
Sometimes tax debt develops due to an innocent mistake. A company that recently moved, for instance, may not have received the IRS’s written notices. If you changed accountants, the IRS may not know who to contact if you failed to submit a form with updated information. However, do not assume that the IRS will go easy on you for a simple misunderstanding.
A lawyer can make quick work of these cases and rectify the situation by examining your personal or business information and finding the error that caused a revenue agent to come out.
Look for Tax Lawyers Near You
If you need assistance because a revenue officer has shown up for a surprise visit, or you’ve been informed by the IRS that you owe back taxes, call a lawyer. The longer you wait, the harder it is to defend yourself. Conversely, the sooner you act, the more likely you are to get a favorable result.
Contact Seattle Legal Services by calling 206-895-7268 to speak to one of our representatives. We can help you face the IRS and protect yourself and your business.