How to handle a Revenue Officer that went quiet
An IRS Revenue Officer came knocking on your door, leaving a card, and a request that you call.
Or maybe the Revenue Officer sent you an introductory letter threatening your wages and bank accounts if you did not respond.
Either way, it is clear the Revenue Officer means business. They are the highest powered IRS collection agents, and are assigned cases the IRS has determined are worthy of attention.
You do the right thing, and call the Revenue Officer back.
But you have not received a return call.
Or maybe the Revenue Officer demands a meeting, and you go, and answer all of their questions about your finances.
But then, you do not hear back, even after calling to follow-up.
You are doing your best, but suddenly you cannot get a pulse from the Revenue Officer. Everything has gone dark.
What is the IRS up to, and how do you break through?
You should not be in any trouble with the IRS.
You have tried your best to communicate with the Revenue Officer, and met all demands. You are making the Revenue Officer’s job easier.
This should not be about you or your actions.
There could be several factors at work:
- You are one of many case files in the Revenue Officer’s inventory. The RO may be focused on other files now that have taken priority over yours.
- The RO could have had a temporary change of duty, possibly teaching classes to other IRS agents. As a result, their cases are on a short hold.
- Revenue Officers get sick, have children and parents they may need to attend to. Sometimes, a RO can be on personal leave.
- Revenue Officers are like you and me; and can get busy and overlook a message or call. There is usually no ill will on their end; they are just human.
But you need to protect yourself.
The last thing we want is for the RO to come back to the file, lose track of where you left off, forgetting your good efforts and deciding to levy your accounts.
You want to get it on record that you have tried your best and done everything required.
You have several options to break through, including:
- Put it in writing. Every time you place a follow-up call to the RO, mail them a letter or send a fax confirming. It can be as simple as: “Dear Revenue Officer Parker – I am writing to follow-up to the voice message I left you on Monday, March 2. I have not yet heard back, and would like to move forward to get my case resolved in good faith. I hope all is well for you. Please let me know a convenient time to talk. Thank you.”
- Call the Revenue Officer’s group manager. Every RO has a manager who oversees their cases and workload. A call can be placed to the manager expressing concern that you have not heard back and would just like to make sure everything is okay.
- File an appeal. The IRS has an extensive appeals program that gives you the right to jump over the RO and seek appeals involvement to get your file moving. IRS appeals acts independently of Revenue Officers and the collection division. Appeals officers are trained to be unbiased. The appeal would be filed using IRS Form 9423, Collection Appeal Request. You would state in the appeal that you have not received a response from the Revenue Officer, and would like appeals assistance to resolve your file.
- Request assistance from the IRS Taxpayer Advocate. The Taxpayer Advocate works for you when IRS procedures are not being followed and there are delays. Their guidelines include helping when the IRS fails to respond to your calls or filings. If the Taxpayer Advocate accepts your case, they would then contact the RO for you and be an intermediary between you and the IRS.
But sometimes not hearing back from the Revenue Officer can be advantageous and part of your strategy.
Quiet can be good. For example, the IRS 10 years to collect from you. The clock continues to run while you wait to hear back from the RO. When the 10 years ends, the IRS is required to forgive your tax debt, ending your tax problem.
The IRS will disclose the collection end dates so we can determine if it is better to sit tight as compared to getting the ROs attention. Time may be on your side.
If you have been contacted by an IRS Revenue Officer, communication is an key part of staying on the good side of the IRS. It can be unnerving to be doing your part, but not getting any response from the RO. Make a good record of your attempts, and write to the RO to confirm every step you take. At the same time, if the collection statute of limitations is short, consideration should be given to letting time work to your advantage.
Wondering if an IRS Revenue Officer is about to contact you? Here are the warning signs.