Important details to understand when the IRS might contact a taxpayer

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

Updated August 1, 2023:  IRS ends unannounced revenue officer visits to taxpayers; major change to end confusion, enhance safety as part of larger agency transformation efforts

IR-2023-56, March 23, 2023

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service reaches out in multiple ways to educate taxpayers while ensuring it fairly enforces the nation's tax laws. There are important factors to keep in mind about when the IRS may initiate direct contact with a taxpayer.

For people who owe taxes, the IRS provides many different payment options to help taxpayers meet their obligations. Taxpayers can avoid late filing and interest penalties by submitting their tax return and using one of these options to pay what they owe by April 18.

For those struggling to pay in full by the deadline, the IRS offers several different options. For example, most individual taxpayers qualify for a payment plan and can use the IRS' Online Payment Agreement to set up a payment plan (including an installment agreement) to pay off an outstanding balance over time.

People encountering a tax issue, such as an unpaid bill or a question about their taxes, will typically receive multiple letters in the mail from the IRS. People are encouraged to respond to these letters quickly, since interest and penalties can compound quickly.

Most IRS contacts with taxpayers are through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. However, there are limited circumstances when the IRS will come to a home or business as part of a collection investigation, an audit or an ongoing criminal investigation.

IRS in-person visits

IRS employees that may make face-to-face visits outside an IRS office include revenue officers, revenue agents and IRS Criminal Investigation special agents. IRS employees are trained to respect taxpayer rights, and there are some important facts to keep in mind about the different types of visits.

Revenue officers are IRS civil enforcement employees who work to resolve compliance issues such as unfiled returns and/or taxes owed – all situations where the taxpayer typically would have received multiple IRS letters in advance.

These in-person visits may be unscheduled and can be to share information, inform taxpayers of their tax filing and payment obligations and work with taxpayers to resolve their tax issues and bring them into compliance.

They conduct interviews to gather financial information and provide taxpayers with the necessary steps to become and remain compliant with the tax laws.

Revenue agents usually conduct in-person field audits that are normally at the taxpayer's home, place of business or accountant's office where the organization's financial books and records are located. Revenue agents will make contact via mail or phone prior to any visit.

Revenue officers and agents always carry two forms of official credentials with a serial number and their photo. Taxpayers have the right to see each of these credentials and can also request an additional method to verify their identification.

Remember, taxpayers should know they have a tax issue before these visits occur since multiple mailings occur.

More information on  identifying legitimate IRS representatives and how to report scams  can be found at

IRS-CI special agents investigate potential criminal violations of the Internal Revenue Code and related financial crimes. IRS-CI's investigative jurisdiction includes tax, money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act laws. IRS-CI special agents always present their law enforcement credentials when conducting investigations.

IRS-CI may visit a taxpayer's home or business unannounced during an investigation. However, they will not demand any sort of payment. Learn more about IRS-CI on

How to report impersonation scams

If a person doesn't have a previously known tax issue and suspects someone is trying to impersonate an IRS employee, there are a variety of options to report phone, email and other impersonation scams:

  • Report impersonation scams to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration on the TIGTA Report Waste, Fraud and Abuse webpage. Taxpayers can also call 800-366-4484 to report impersonation scams.
  • Protect your community by reporting fraud, scams and bad business practices. Report phone scams to the Federal Trade Commission at Report Fraud FTC.
  • Report an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS or an IRS-related system like the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to the IRS at
  • For a comprehensive listing of recent tax scams, consumer alerts and how to report them, visit Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts.