How to stay calm when a Revenue Officer uses Form 9297
Although it is scary to imagine, you may find yourself face-to-face with an IRS Revenue Officer. They could be knocking at your front door, or even arrive unexpectedly to your place of employment. You might receive a phone call or letter notifying you that the Officer now has access to your information – you are no longer flying under their radar.
Revenue Officers are assigned to your case when you owe a significant amount to the IRS, your tax liabilities are piling up every year, or you have a business and have not been paying your employees’ withholding taxes. As part of their job, expect a Revenue Officer to deliver you IRS Form 9297, Summary of Taxpayer Contact, which states and summarizes the IRS’ demands.
The Revenue Officer’s demands in Form 9297 can be broken down into four areas:
- If you have unfiled returns, the Revenue Officer will need those to be prepared and filed.
- If you are not paying your taxes, they will want you to immediately start paying through quarterly estimated tax payments.
- If you have a business and you are not paying employee withholdings, the Revenue Officer will want prompt verification for your deposits.
- The Revenue Officer will want to dig into your finances and determine how you will pay them back.
The first three points listed above can be categorized as “compliance issues” – when you are not abiding by the tax system’s rules. With compliance issues, a Revenue Officer first wants you to stop the issue at hand (filing returns, setting up quarterly payments, making those employee deposits), and then will address methods of your repayment. Revenue Officers can also be assigned cases where you have no issues with compliance (you have filed returns and are paying your current taxes), but you still owe a significant amount.
Here are some specific items that you can expect Form 9297 to request from you:
- Unfiled tax returns – IRS guidelines require the last six years, no matter how many years more you may have not filed
- Estimated tax payments and employment tax deposit verification
- Bank Statements, business and personal up to 12 months
- Wage Statements from the prior three months
- Mortgage and loan statements from your bank demonstrating your monthly payment and amount owed
- If you have a business, a recent profit and loss statement
The Revenue Officer will also request you to complete IRS Form 433A, Collection Information Statement. In this form, the IRS asks you to put in writing your finances, such as your monthly living expenses, business assets, the value of your car, where you bank, where you work.
Each of these items have deadlines for compliance and disclosure. Often, these deadlines are quick, within weeks of receiving Form 9297. Your payment issues most likely have been lingering for quite a long time, and your assigned Revenue Officer wants to act fast.
If you find that these deadlines are unattainable or these are demands that you cannot meet, there are strategies for negotiating with your Revenue Officer. Some methods of negotiating a timeline include:
- Requesting a good faith one-time extension
- Speaking with your Revenue Officer’s Group Manager for more reasonable deadlines
- Filing an appeal and asking for a hearing with an IRS Appeals Officer to allow us more time
Revenue Officers need to move their cases forward; that means a missed deadline from the Form 9297 delays their work, and will usually result in a levy if additional time is not negotiated. When working with a Revenue Officer on Form 9297, good communication and being proactive goes a long way.
It can be overwhelming to find yourself facing an IRS Revenue Officer who demands your tax returns and investigates your finances. Their requirements are listed out for us in Form 9297, Summary of Taxpayer Contact – by understanding how to work with the Revenue Officer to provide this requested information, we can ease the tension. Rather than seeing an IRS Revenue Officer and Form 9297 as a reason to panic, together we can use it to effectively communicate and work with the IRS to get your case resolved.