The IRS is increasing efforts to reach high-income individuals – people with incomes above $100,000 – who have failed to file at least one or more tax returns in recent years in an attempt to encourage compliance, the agency said on Wednesday.
The increased efforts include sending several dozens of agents to make at least 800 face-to-face visits in February and March of this year. The IRS will continue to identify other non-compliant individuals throughout the year and will add cases as they find them.
This would be the final step before the agency would pursue more severe procedures, including civil or criminal action against that individual, the IRS said.
The IRS will focus on the most egregious cases first, such as individuals contacted by the agency multiple times via mail with no response.
The goal of these visits is to educate taxpayers about their filing requirements and try to bring them into compliance without taking stronger enforcement actions against the individual.
The agency will have several precautions in place to assure taxpayers that a home visit isn't a scam. The IRS employee will provide two forms of official credentials, including a serial number and a photo ID. IRS employees will also not make threats nor demand an unusual form of payment, such as a gift card.
All taxpayers met in person will also have also been contacted multiple times by the IRS, so they should know they have a tax issue, the agency said. However, the timing of most visits will be unannounced.
The increased efforts to reach non-compliant people comes as the agency has come under criticism from its watchdog, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and outside groups that say the agency isn't effectively auditing corporations and high-income individuals with complicated returns. The IRS Commissioner has said he is focusing on improving enforcement – in both criminal and civil cases – and has asked Congress for more money to staff these efforts.
If you are contacted by an IRS agent seeking information about your failure to file tax returns, it is best to have an attorney by your side. Anything you say in an IRS investigation can be used against you to prosecute you either civilly or criminally.