If you are dealing with an IRS revenue officer, we feel your pain. Nobody enjoys dealing with IRS personnel directly, but sometimes that is the most effective way to get the best resolution to your tax situation.
While a meeting with an IRS revenue officer seems intimidating, the first thing to remember is that you are dealing with another human being, not some monster — although some revenue officers are worthy of that description. These people are doing their jobs, just like you do yours.
It is always best to start off on the right foot with the revenue officer, in other words, get on their good side. If you establish an amicable relationship from the onset, the experience will be much more tolerable. I did not say fun, but it will definitely feel less stressful.
I want to share with you six tips for dealing with IRS revenue officers. I have gleaned this knowledge from my years of experience in representing clients before the IRS — where I am the one dealing with the revenue officer. They can work for you, too.
IRS Revenue Officers Tip No. 1 – Be Aggressive in Getting Everything Ready Before the Revenue Officer Gets Involved
There are two things that an IRS revenue officer judges themselves on when it comes to their own job performance: how much money they can collect toward the satisfaction of the liability and how fast they can close a case out.
IRS Revenue Officers Tip No. 2 – Set the Tone During the First Call
Here is how I deal with IRS revenue officers.
- I assess the taxpayer’s full situation including any and all contact with the revenue officer.
- I get a game plan together in conjunction with my taxpayer’s goals.
- I devise a strategy for executing that game plan (all outstanding tax returns submitted and a financial statement completed within ___ weeks).
- I call the revenue officer, introduce myself, and lay out the plan of how things are going to go.
By taking control of the situation, I leave less room for the revenue officer to interject himself or herself into the game plan. If I leave things to the revenue officer, they may set an unreasonable or unworkable deadline or go on a fishing expedition for documents (more on this below).
I also appear proactive and already put myself in a good position with the revenue officer by letting them know that I am going to manage their case for them. They may add additional requests or let you know that your timetable is unreasonable, but at least I have made the opening offer and now have a platform to negotiate off of. This really helps.
IRS Revenue Officers Tip No. 3 – Get on the Revenue Officer’s Good Side by Making Life Easy for Them
Whatever your occupation, there are just some people who we encounter over the course of our chosen professions that make life difficult for us. They may turn in things that are substandard and require a lot of your time to make right. They may require constant follow up in order to get the things that you have asked for or miss appointments or deadlines without notifying you in advance.
You may be one of these people to someone else, but absolutely do not be that person to your revenue officer. Getting on the revenue officer’s bad side is never a good thing. They will be generally less inclined to give you the resolution you are seeking and will make interactions with them more stressful and more difficult for you.
In addition, missing deadlines with the revenue officer can lead to harsh consequences. They can place a lien or levy you pretty quickly if you start to get out of line. Understand that they sometimes walk into these matters with a bias against you because of any past lack of diligence to take care of your non-compliance in the first place.
Therefore, it is important that you do what you can to please the revenue officer. Make sure all your document submissions are well-organized and clearly labeled. Do not just throw things in an envelope and ship them to your revenue officer. Avoid faxing them things that are voluminous, which they are going to have to spend time organizing for their file (they hate that).
Generally, just make your dealings pleasant with them as IRS revenue officers usually have many harsh interactions with taxpayers and their representatives day-in and day-out. You will be glad you did.
IRS Revenue Officers Tip No. 4 – Follow up
IRS revenue officers generally have a lot going on. They have roughly 40 cases or so to sift through. Many of their cases, particularly non-filers, consume a lot of their time as they are left to chase assets, go out in the field to try and track these people down, and deal with many of the administrative headaches of working for the IRS. They may be just as busy as you are.
Sometimes, even with as much organization and diligence as you put toward your matter, revenue officers drop the ball. They do not always return calls or are notoriously difficult to get a hold of or take an extremely long time to review documents.
I sometimes get frustrated when a revenue officer places a tight deadline on me to get something done and then take their sweet time getting back to me. It is really aggravating and my clients tend to get agitated when these matters take a long time to resolve.
However, instead of taking frustration out on the revenue officer, I just politely and diligently follow up with them every few days or so. After several messages, they will eventually give me a call back and apologize for the delay.
Whatever their reason, I just dismiss their non-responsiveness and am sympathetic toward them, which they appreciate. In addition, it puts them in a position of feeling bad for letting things drag, which has given me an occasional advantage in our future dealings.
The important lesson here is, despite any non-responsiveness; always continually follow up with your revenue officer to make sure they have everything and just to check on the status of your case. Be sure to document the date of each call in case you need it later (see below for Getting Tough), but be exceeding pleasant in each interaction. This will avoid any miscommunications and will also continually put the ball in their court to work toward a resolution.