If you’ve run into tax problems, you may have had the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) come looking for you. This can be stressful in itself, of course, but is particularly difficult if you have an aggressive IRS agent on your case. While you figure out what your first steps will be—including getting organized and finding the right tax representative to help—remember, you do not have to face this situation alone.
If you find yourself dealing with an overaggressive IRS agent, it’s important to keep your cool. While you exercise patience and work to stay on an agent’s good side, you will increase your odds of a positive outcome. Of course, if an IRS agent is particularly aggressive, you may be better off allowing your tax representative to handle your case. As you decide the best way to proceed, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Naturally, when you first hear from an IRS agent, it’s easy to be taken off guard. Keep in mind, there are many reasons the IRS may reach out to you. Not all involve aggressive action. The IRS could reach out to:
- ask a question about the information on your tax return
- alert you to corrections on your tax return
- let you know about changes to your return
- verify your identity
Of course, they may reach out regarding more uncomfortable topics, as well, perhaps to follow up on an outstanding tax balance. If you have received aggressive IRS notices by mail, try to comply with meeting requests as much as possible.
Get Organized, Not Rattled
Often, an IRS agent will mail you notice of a scheduled audit with very little advanced warning. If you are able to take the meeting, it is important to be as organized as possible. Take the time to find the information they have requested, as well as additional tax returns or other information you think could be relevant.
Remember that IRS agents are interested in two things: collecting money and closing cases as quickly as possible. The better prepared you are, the faster your case will resolve. This can work in your favor if they can see you are trying to help them resolve your case. In other words, the easier you make their job, the more likely they are to cut you some slack along the way.
This mindset—a willingness to cooperate and organize—will help you avoid feeling rattled by an aggressive IRS agent. The more you are doing and preparing, the less likely you are to feel worried, resentful, or angry.
If you are unable to make the audit date, the IRS agent may create an audit assessment number and file a report, technically giving you another 30 days to appeal, although you may have far less than 30 days by the time you receive the notice.
Be Aware: The IRS Sees You as Guilty
Along the way, as IRS Agents send you notices to schedule audits or other meetings, their tone can become more and more aggressive. This can be true, even if they’ve backed you into a corner, giving you very little notice to prepare or respond.
Part of the reason for this aggressive behavior is that the IRS sees you as guilty until proven innocent. While this may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’ve done nothing wrong, it is a fact you need to work around.
To help yourself, document as much as you can. Keep track of details around timing and agent requests, for example. Take note of the day you received your audit notice and how much time you were given before your audit meeting. These details can be useful, should you need court evidence down the road.
Similarly, as you respond and interact with the IRS agent, try to keep your cool and follow through as much as you are able. If you find yourself struggling to meet deadlines set by the IRS or feel intimidated by their aggressive strategies, find a tax representative to work on your behalf.
Finally, you don’t need to accept what the IRS says you owe as fact. If you feel they have the wrong details for your case or that they’ve overstated the amount you owe, you are allowed to challenge their findings.
Be on the Lookout for Scams
Unfortunately, IRS scams are common. Given that people are often afraid to get into trouble with the IRS, they are more willing to hand over money when they shouldn’t.
As a measure of precaution, you can ask for an agent’s credentials, so you can confirm you are dealing with an IRS agent. Specifically, credentials include an agent’s pocket commission, which lists their authority and responsibility, and personal identity verification (PIV), a government standard used to identify federal employees.
Also, be aware that an IRS agent would only ever reach out to you directly after you have been contacted by mail. If they ask for you to pay an overdue tax bill, they will only ever ask for you to make a payment to the U.S. Treasury.
Anyone who asks you to make a payment to an entity other than the U.S. Treasury is fraudulent. You should report them to the IRS.
Work with a Tax Representative
Perhaps the most important thing you can do, when the IRS has come looking for you, is to work with an expert tax team. Too often, intimidation causes taxpayers to simply pay what the IRS claims they owe, without questioning its accuracy.
As your tax representative, your tax team will take the time to fully understand your tax history and current exposure. They will work for you, on your side, to fully manage your interaction with the IRS.
As tax experts, they will fully understand the scope of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which the IRS adopted in 2014. The code reserves your right to a fair and just tax system, as well as the right to be informed, to pay no more than the correct amount of tax, the right to privacy, and the right to finality, to allow you to carry on with your life.
In addition, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights provides the right to retain representation, so you can hire an authorized professional to interact with the IRS on your behalf. A tax representative is useful in scenarios where you disagree with the amount the IRS claims that you owe. Under the Bill, you have the right to dispute what the IRS claims you owe.
A tax representative acting as your intermediary is especially helpful if you find yourself at the mercy of an aggressive IRS agent. It is important to find a professional tax team that has had plenty of experience working one on one with IRS agents. The right team will be undaunted by aggressive agents, they will set the right tone for meetings and follow through in your best interest.
A bonus—once your tax representative is at work on your behalf, the aggressive IRS notices will come to a stop.
At Franskoviak Tax Solutions, we have helped thousands of clients with tax planning for more than 30 years. We provide comprehensive tax services with first-class expertise and a personalized, boutique-style approach. Speak to our team about personal and business taxes, IRS tax relief, and tax problems such as IRS tax notifications, payroll tax debt, delinquent taxes, and more.
Start with a free consultation—we’re here to help manage all your tax-related needs, including acting as your tax representative, should you need assistance in your interactions with the IRS.