The Internal Revenue Service announced Monday it is ending the practice of performing unannounced visits to taxpayers to enhance the safety of taxpayers and IRS agents.
The IRS also said eliminating such visits would reduce confusion among taxpayers.
The agency said only under a few unique circumstances would an agent show up somewhere unannounced.
Instead, the IRS will send notices to taxpayers to schedule meetings to resolve their account balances. At these meetings, IRS agents can collect unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns.
"We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a commonsense step," IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said. "Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees."
Some lawmakers have suggested that the IRS would use more staffing to lead to increased audits of those making $400,000, despite assurances from the White House that it would not. Instead, the White House said hiring increases were needed at the IRS to replenish dwindling staffing levels.
Some of the rhetoric about audit levels has led to safety issues, Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, suggested.
"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," Reardon said. "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. We look forward to working with the IRS on this and other actions to protect the safety of all IRS employees."
Earlier this year, the IRS released detailson how the agency plans to use $80 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress last year. Of that amount, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that $60 billion will be spent on enforcement.
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Werfel said part of that process will be implementing a "soft notice" program. He said rather than sending taxpayers through an audit process when mistakes are made on tax forms, the IRS would work with filers to correct the mistake quickly.
The IRS said there would be less than a few hundred instances a year that would require an agent to make unannounced visits. Those cases may include service of summonses and subpoenas. The former policy typically results in tens of thousands of visits, the IRS said.
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