Congress assigns the IRS the duty of assessing and collecting taxes, as well as with enforcing existing tax laws and agency regulations. This is a big job, and the IRS employs thousands of professionals to do it.
One of the more prominent positions at the IRS is the role of IRS Internal Revenue Officer (RO). Revenue Officers are specialist IRS enforcement agents who may contact taxpayers about their tax returns and set up tax payment plans.
What Is an IRS Revenue Officer?
An IRS Revenue Officer is a tax enforcement agent, one who works to collect unpaid taxes from individuals and taxpaying businesses. They are not to be confused with IRS Revenue Agents, who investigate tax returns and conduct tax audits. Instead, Revenue Officers contact taxpayers to discuss their tax debt and set up payment plans to resolve them.
The IRS sets a high standard for those who apply to be Revenue Officers. A typical RO has a bachelor’s degree or higher in any field relating to business or accounting. Some have degrees in investigation or collections specialties.
IRS Revenue Officers do not have to be accountants, though many choose to become CPAs.
What Is the Role of an IRS Revenue Officer?
The role of a Revenue Officer can vary from case to case. Their main role is to pursue collection activity on unpaid taxes and recover debts owed to the Treasury. To do this, they have wide latitude for contacting delinquent taxpayers, setting up payment plans, bringing collection actions and even suspending or forgiving some debt due to hardship or other issues specific to the case they are working.
IRS Revenue Officers can do a lot to collect a tax debt, but there are limits to their power. They cannot arrest you, for example, nor can they threaten you with arrest. They can, however, issue subpoenas for your financial information and conduct a credit check.
In addition, they can sue you to recover taxes owed, and they can interview people who know you to analyze your finances. If you are cooperative with their tax collection efforts, ROs can help establish repayment plans and lift some of the penalties your unpaid tax debt has incurred.
When Is a Tax Debt Case Assigned to a Revenue Officer?
A case gets assigned to a Revenue Officer after a Revenue Agent assesses tax debt, often after an IRS audit or other investigation. Once the IRS has determined that a taxpayer owes money, the RO is tasked with contacting the delinquent taxpayer, which may be an individual or a business, and arranging for payment of the tax debt. Revenue Officers often make cold calls to establish first contact with a taxpayer.
How Can You Verify the IRS Revenue Officer Contacting You Is an Actual IRS Employee?
If an IRS Revenue Officer contacts you, the IRS advises you to verify that they really are who they say they are. All ROs carry two forms of government-issued picture IDs, and you can call your local IRS office to confirm their identity.
You may also have the option of meeting with a Revenue Officer at an IRS office.
Can an IRS Revenue Officer Help Resolve Tax Debt?
After contacting the taxpayer, the Revenue Officer analyzes their financial data to establish their ability to pay their tax debt. ROs can make collection easier by setting up a payment plan that breaks up the total repayment into more manageable amounts. If collection is exceptionally difficult, the Revenue Officer can set up garnishments and seizures of property to offset the tax debt.
Part of a Revenue Officer’s job is to establish a taxpayer’s ability to pay. If a taxpayer would experience hardship from a standard repayment plan, the RO has the power to grant relief from penalties and suspend collection activity on the account. Note that a Revenue Officer cannot forgive the principal tax amount owed, since the tax rate is set by Congress, and the IRS does not have the authority to release taxpayers from their tax payment obligations.
Can You Request a Collection Due Process Hearing If You Cannot Resolve Your Tax Debt With an IRS Revenue Officer?
If you cannot reach a tax debt settlement with the IRS Revenue Officer assigned to your case, or if you receive a levy, a Notice of Levy, or a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, you can request a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing. Once you do this, your Revenue Officer must stop collection activity, and you can discuss your case with an IRS Settlement Officer.
Keep in mind that it is always best to resolve your tax debt before the IRS assigns your case to a Revenue Officer, and there are a number of tax relief options available to you depending on your current financial situation.
These relief options include setting up an installment agreement to pay off your tax debt over time, submitting an Offer in Compromise to settle your tax debt for less, or requesting “Currently Not Collectible” status to not have to make tax payments until you are in a better financial position. Schedule a free call at https://www.wiztax.com/schedule/ to see how we can help. You may also start a free online evaluation by answering 6 simple questions. Get started below.