Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Will The IRS Ever Call You?



You have likely read or heard that the IRS will not contact you by telephone. If you receive a phone call claiming to be the IRS, hang up immediately. It is a fraud.

Then we read that some IRS offices were calling people.


Sigh.

I admit, it came as a surprise to me too.

Only a government agency could be this flat-footed.

Let’s talk about it.

To most of us, a call from the IRS is a call from the IRS. We are not particularly concerned whether it is examination, collections or Star Trek productions.

But to the IRS there is a difference. You see, Examination is the part of the IRS that audits you, disallowing all your deductions and assessing penalties for the presumption to deduct anything in the first place. Once you have served your time in the White Tower, your file is turned over to Collections. These kindly people will explain how you can easily pay $45,000 over 12 months when you only make $40,000 annually. It takes a little discipline and the elimination of frivolous expenses, like food, shelter and a car to get you to work .

Collections will never call you.

But it turns out that certain Examinations offices would.

The IRS explanation borders on a Zucker brothers comedy.

The IRS really, really thought that people would understand that Examinations is not Collections. How could there possibly be any confusion?

To be fair, they had a point. You see, Examinations will not ask for money. They may ask to set up a time for you to see them downtown, but the money part is later. They reasoned that fraudsters would not pretend to be Examinations, as that is not whether the money is. Fraudsters would pretend to be Collections.

Even though the average person could no more identify different IRS departments than identify different varieties of quinoa.

After all this went public, the IRS has NOW said that will not initiate contact by telephone, whether it be Examinations or Collections.

Good.

Mind you, this does not mean that they will never call. It does mean that their initial contact will be by mail. Once you are engaged with them – say you are in audit – then they may call. That seems reasonable. First contact does not.

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