Are IRS Revenue Agents Being Fair?
Are IRS revenue agents treating taxpayers fairly? For the most part the answer is "yes," but the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has identified a couple of isolated incidents where IRS officers ignored the rules. The findings were published in a new report released by TIGTA (Review of Fair Tax Collection Practices Violations During Fiscal Year 2013, Ref. No. 2014-10-036, 5/27/214).
TIGTA is required by law to conduct an annual review of fair collection practices by the IRS as required by law (see sidebar). The latest report covers IRS administrative or civil actions resulting from violations in cases opened after July 22, 1998, and closed during Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13). FY13 spans October 1, 2012, through September 30, 2013.
Specifically, TIGTA identified two fair collection violations in cases involving the IRS Human Capital Officer Workforce Relations' Automated Labor and Employee Relations Tracking System. Both employees in these cases were IRS revenue officers performing routine collection work. In each case, the agents contacted the taxpayer directly instead of the taxpayer's power of attorney, as required. The IRS took administrative action against both employees, although it does not appear that disciplinary matters went past admonishments.
IRS Can't Abuse Taxpayers: It's the Law
According to 26 US Code § 6304 and reflected in the IRS' internal manual for its agents, there are strict rules on agents' behavior. In addition to imposing certain restrictions on communications with taxpayers concerning unpaid tax, Section 6304 specifically prohibits the IRS from harassing or abusing taxpayers.
In addition, TIGTA said that it did not identify any cases that were miscoded as fair tax collection violations or any that should have been coded as potential violations but were not. Also, there were no civil actions resulting in monetary awards for damages to taxpayers because of a fair tax collection violation.
Usually, TIGTA has plenty to say about how the IRS can do things better or more efficiently, but it offered no recommendations in this report. IRS management officials reviewed the report prior to being issued and agreed with the facts and conclusions presented within it.