IRS says its agents will no longer make unannounced visits at taxpayers’ doors


The IRS on Monday said its agents will end most unannounced visits to taxpayers, in what the agency calls a “major policy change” geared toward reducing “public confusion” and improving safety for its employees. 

The announcement comes after some Republican lawmakers warned last year that new funding for the IRS would result in thousands of new agency employees that would boost the number of audits of middle-class Americans, even though the Biden administration has said audit rates won’t change for people making less than $400,000. Some on social media also warned, without evidence, that the IRS planned to arm agents, stoking fear among some taxpayers. 

The IRS noted that the new policy reverses a decades-long practice of IRS revenue officers — who are unarmed — visiting households and businesses to collect unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns. But, effective immediately, unannounced visits will instead be replaced with mailed letters to schedule meetings, the agency said.

“We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a common-sense step,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. “Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees.”

The union representing Treasury workers, the National Treasury Employees Union, said on Monday that recent “false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce” had made their jobs less safe, and added that it supports the new policy. It noted that the union had flagged “dangerous situations” encountered by IRS Field Collection employees to the agency.

“As long as elected officials continue to mislead the American people about the legal, legitimate role that IRS employees play in our democracy, NTEU will continue to insist on better security for the employees we represent,”  NTEU National President Tony Reardon said in a separate statement.

He added, “It is outrageous that our nation’s civil servants have to live in fear just because they chose a career in public service.”

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