If I have IRS representation, will they treat me differently?
Do you need IRS audit or collection help, or can you go at it alone with the IRS?
You may currently be uncomfortable with what an IRS agent is telling you, or what your rights are, or if your case is proceeding the way it should.
Or there may be IRS threats of enforcement against your wages, bank accounts, or real estate – are they real, and if so, how can they be avoided?
Maybe the IRS may be requesting to interview you, or visit your house, or tour your business. Can they, should they?
Are there better options and solutions to your problem than what the IRS is telling you?
What are they not telling you?
Here are a few things you should know about your rights with the IRS:
To enter your house, you can voluntarily let the IRS in, but you may be uncomfortable with that. Absent your permission, know that the IRS cannot enter your house without a court warrant allowing them to enter. The same is true for your business. You want to cooperate with the IRS, sure, but maybe usually we arrange a meeting at a neutral site, like my office.
The IRS likes to conduct interviews. In audits, it is the first thing they will usually request – to meet with you, and interview you about your finances and tax return. But you may uncomfortable with that, too. Know that to interview you, the IRS must send out a summons to require your attendance if you do not want to voluntarily do it.
In most every audit, the personal interview process is alleviated as the IRS interview with me, about you. In other words, I familiarize myself with your situation to answer the IRS questions about you, and for you. Most IRS agents permit this provided their questions are satisfactorily answered.
If the IRS is threatening to levy your accounts or wages, know that before the IRS can take your property, the IRS has to send you a registered-mail letter notifying you of their intent to levy. They can’t just do it randomly, by surprise, and without notice.
You also have the right to appeal most every IRS decision and not accept an auditor or collector’s decision as final. You have rights to appeal the following:
– The findings of an IRS auditor, both to the IRS Office of Appeals, and if that’s unsuccessful, to the independent U.S. Tax Court. Yes, IRS audits are not final, nor are the findings of an IRS auditor.
– Any decision by an IRS collections employee that you disagree with can be appealed by using the IRS Collection Appeals Program. While the review is pending, the IRS is put on hold, and no enforcement occurs.
– A rejection of an IRS offer in compromise is not final. You have the right to appeal any dispute over settling your debt by an offer in compromise to an IRS appeals officer.
– Similar to IRS audits, you have the right to appeal an IRS decision to levy to an IRS appeals officer, and then to Tax Court. The appeal stops the IRS from levying until it is decided.
– If you have offered to pay the IRS with an installment agreement, but the IRS denied your request, that decision is not final – you have the legal right to have a denied installment agreement reviewed by an independent, third party at the IRS.
– If you already have an installment agreement, but the IRS sent you a notice to terminate it, you can appeal that, too, before it becomes final.
Taking your living quarters, denying you transportation, or taking your business from you is possible – and serious – but also fairly low on the IRS to-do list, all appearances and myths aside.
As a former IRS attorney, I have an appreciation of how the IRS works, how they think, and the best strategies to negotiate with them.
I spend most of my work day talking to the IRS, and I work to understand their job demands, work flow, and internal criteria to close a case. My IRS experience and has helped me to bridge the gap between my clients and the IRS by having a better understanding for both sides.
So my answer is yes, if you have professional representation, the IRS will treat you differently. And that is exactly what you should want – to be treated in a manner where your rights are preserved, protected, and respected.