Recently, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan was successful at getting the IRS commissioner to change IRS policy to stop most unannounced home visits by IRS agents.
In all of my years, I’ve only been aware of IRS criminal investigative agents (the 2% of IRS agents who do carry guns) going to a taxpayer’s home and it was because that taxpayer had not filed any tax returns for eight years. The story ended well. The taxpayer hired us, we got all eight years filed and the friendly IRS CI agents closed the matter.
I came across a sad story that occurred in April of this year. A woman from Marion, Ohio, was visited by an IRS agent who claimed his name was “Bill Haus” from the IRS Criminal Division. This supposed agent, without providing legal identification, his badge number, etc. managed to trick the lady into letting him into her home. He appeared to know details about an estate she was fiduciary for that she believed only the IRS would know.
Once this supposed agent got access to the taxpayer’s home, he then told her that he had tricked her with the estate matter, and he was really there about delinquent tax filings. The lady managed to get her attorney on the phone. Her attorney repeatedly told the supposed IRS agent Haus to leave the taxpayer’s home, which he finally did.
Once the IRS agent had left, the taxpayer contacted the local police who investigated this and discovered the agent’s real name, that he was indeed an agent with the IRS.
There were several disturbing things about this incident. The IRS allowed their CI agents to make field visits using aliases. The IRS allowed their field agents to use a false reason for their visit, while they are really trying to discover and investigate something else. The IRS did not inform local authorities of their visit. (A normal custom to avoid misunderstandings with local law enforcement.)
Good job Rep. Jordan for getting the IRS to drop these kinds of behaviors. But, just in case some IRS agents didn’t get the memo from their boss, here is what the lady should have done.
When somebody shows up at your door identifying as an IRS agent, ask to see an official ID. Take a picture of it with your phone. (Be sure to have the agent’s face in the picture.) Then ask them if they have a subpoena and if so, to present it to you. If they do not have a subpoena, politely tell them to leave, close the door and walk away, immediately calling your tax attorney for advice on what to do. Even if they have a subpoena, do not talk to them, instead wait for advice from your tax attorney. It is best to say nothing, do not volunteer anything. Let your attorney do any talking to the agent, either on the phone or in person. When the agent leaves, take a picture of their car, with a clear shot of their license plate.
It is disturbing that the IRS thought this was a good idea, given the large number of scammers out there, impersonating IRS agents and scaring folks into giving up sensitive information and even money.
Have you heard? Prov 12:17 says, “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
Kelly Bullis is a Certified Public Accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 775-882-4459. On the web at BullisAndCo.com. Also on Facebook.