An IRS revenue officer ("RO") is a highly trained employee of the IRS collection division. ROs are granted total collection authority by the IRS and are therefore able to make phone calls and visit you at home or at your place of business. If you are not at home or work when the RO comes to visit, he or she will leave a request that you contact them by a specific date. This request should not be ignored. If you do not voluntarily comply with this request, the RO has the power to summons you to a mandatory meeting. The RO also has the power to garnish wages and bank accounts, seize accounts receivables and seize property. It is very common for an RO to use these collections techniques against an uncooperative taxpayer.
Every RO is different. I have personally worked with many ROs who care deeply about a taxpayer's situation and do everything in their power to find the best solution possible. I have also worked with unreasonable ROs who don't have patience for excuses and are quick to garnish wages and seize bank accounts.
The bottom line is that ROs are people with a very difficult and dangerous job. Although they do not carry weapons or make arrests, they do work long hours and make face-to-face contact with many unreasonable and desperate people. It is not uncommon for an RO to be threatened on the job. Dealing with a reasonable and responsive taxpayer is often a welcome opportunity for an RO.
Why Is An RO Assigned To Your Case?
If you owe the IRS money, the IRS may assign your case to an RO for a number of reasons. These include: (1) you owe a large debt (2) you owe payroll taxes (3) you have unfiled tax returns and/or (4) the regular IRS collection division has been unsuccessful in collecting from you.
What Should You Do?
If you receive a call or visit from an RO, do not ignore the RO. Whether or not you should hire a tax controversy attorney to represent you depends on how comfortable you are dealing with the RO and the complexity of your tax situation. If you decide to handle communications with the RO on your own, consider the following:
- You should obtain a complete snapshot of your account with the IRS. In order to do this, contact the IRS in order to gather the following information:
- Confirm that all necessary tax returns have been filed
- If any tax returns have not been filed, these need to be prepared and filed immediately. In order to get these prepared, request that the IRS send you your Wage and Income Transcripts for the tax years that have not been filed. Wage and Income Transcripts show your W2s, 1099s, mortgage interest information, etc.
- Request that the IRS send you an Account Transcript for each year that you have a balance. This transcript will show you each year's balance due and the interest and penalties that have been added on.
This content is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional.