The Internal Revenue Service will end most unannounced in-person visits to taxpayers to «reduce public confusion» and improve safety for both taxpayers and employees, the agency said Monday.
The change reverses a decades-long practice by Internal Revenue Service workers who routinely visited taxpayers to resolve outstanding debts and other issues. Effective immediately, the agency said, unannounced visits will end «except in a few unique circumstances.»
Instead, affected taxpayers will receive letters in the mail asking them to make an appointment.
“We are reviewing how the IRS works 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 security for taxpayers and IRS employees.»
Werfel also noted that there has been growing security concern in recent years, including an increase in scammers «bombing» taxpayers, which has increased confusion about home visits by IRS revenue officials. Some scammers have even shown up at homes posing as IRS agents, «creating confusion not only for taxpayers who live there, but also for local law enforcement,» the agency said.
As for IRS revenue officers, Werfel said, their unannounced visits to homes and businesses were also a challenge.
“These visits created additional anxiety for taxpayers who were already wary of would-be scammers,” Werfel said. “At the same time, the uncertainty surrounding what IRS employees faced when visiting these homes also caused them stress. This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it.”
Politicians have scrutinized some of the IRS’s operating practices in recent years.
Last weekend, US Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) called out the agency in a tweet, sharing the link to a story about a business in the city of Stuart, Florida, that was wanted by criminal investigators with the IRS earlier this month.
It was not clear what prompted the search. Scott’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Werfel said the agency’s decision to end most unannounced visits is part of a larger effort to transform IRS operations after the passage of the Reduced Inflation Act last year.
That law, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year, allocated $80 billion to help improve the IRS’s overall digital footprint, among other reforms. In April, the agency announced that it would try to hire nearly 20,000 employees over the next two years.