Demystifying IRS Agents

The IRS is planning to hire thousands of new agents in the next few years.  Some politicians and the media have portrayed the new hires as a harassing threats to taxpayers.

In my decades of experience as a tax attorney defending taxpayers on complex tax examinations (e.g., audits), I found IRS Agents to be normal people just like you and me. They have families, eat, drink, and tell jokes too.

Often IRS Agents are vilified and mystically demonized just for doing their job. FYI, the IRS Mission is to “Provide America’s taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.”

IRS Agents are not the enemy. They are not compensated on a commission or bonus basis. They are salaried. Their job is to assess and collect the correct amount of tax, not the maximum amount of tax.

Like many organizations, the IRS has limited resources, and it should use them wisely. IRS Agents, with Taxpayer consent, have the ability to complete an exam more quickly. Also, IRS agents have the discretion to close cases prematurely, with managerial approval, based on their findings or the lack thereof.

Unfortunately, some taxpayers (and their representatives) begin a tax audit hostile and defensive. Sometimes they try to make the process more difficult, longer, or more complex. This creates tension where none should exist.

However, sometimes there is a time for aggressive advocacy and strategy in a tax audit. A tax attorney should zealously ensure that their client only pays the correct amount of tax. Nonetheless, taxpayers and their representatives should be respectful and considerate of IRS agents; they are just trying to do their jobs.

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