August 5, 2023 | Uncategorized
The Taxpayer’s Guide to IRS Letter 9297
If you receive IRS Letter 9297 (Summary of Taxpayer Contact), that means an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revenue officer is working on your account, and the agency needs your financial information. The IRS typically assigns accounts to revenue officers when taxpayers have compliance issues, a substantial back tax balance, or the agency’s automated approach has failed to collect payment.
You likely have several questions after receiving IRS Letter 9297. What does this notice mean? How does a revenue officer’s involvement affect you? Should you seek representation before responding to this notice?
In this article, we at the tax law firm of Timothy S. Hart Law Group, P.C., answer all these questions and discuss your options when responding to Form 9297.
What Is IRS Form 9297 – Summary of Taxpayer Contact?
IRS Form 9297 is a notice that a revenue officer may send you after they start working on your account. This notice contains a list of documents and information you must provide to assist the IRS in determining a suitable resolution for your tax problem.
The IRS will use this information to ensure that you are current and compliant with all relevant filing and payment requirements. They will also use the information to verify your ability to pay your tax debt.
Depending on your tax problem, Form 9297 may request the following:
- A completed Form 433 A, B, or F (Collection Information Statement)
- The preparation and filing of all unfiled tax returns for the past six years
- Verification of estimated tax payments
- Proof of employment tax deposits
- Personal and business bank statements for the previous 12 months
- Your most recent pay stub as verification of your year-to-date gross pay, withholding, deductions, and net pay
- Proof of any other income during the previous three months, including rental income, spousal support, child support, Social Security benefits, or pensions
- A list of all investment assets you own (IRAs, stocks, bonds, savings bonds, and mutual funds) and the most recent statement for each item
- All out-of-pocket medical expenses you incurred during the previous three months
- Mortgage statements for the properties you hold title to and proof of each property’s most recent mortgage payment
- Copies of your most recent utility and phone bills
- Copies of all of your vehicles’ DMV registration
A completed Collection Information Statement is the principal document you must complete and submit in response to Form 9297. The IRS will use the financial information you provide in this form to determine how you will satisfy your outstanding tax liability.
While you should never lie to the IRS or refuse to provide requested information, you may want to consult with a tax attorney before sending any information to the IRS. A tax attorney can let you know if the information you’re providing is in your best interest, and they may be able to help you negotiate a payment plan with less information than requested on the original Form 9297.
Compliance and Disclosure Deadlines
Form 9297 lists deadlines for each request. Taxpayers typically only have a few weeks to file delinquent returns, verify payments, and provide documentation.
If you fail to meet the demands before the deadlines, the revenue officer can issue a formal summons to obtain documents directly from the bank or force an interview to complete Form 433-A over the phone. Failure to comply with a deadline may also result in levy action.
Also, remember that you are signing Form 433-A under penalty of perjury, and you must list all your income sources and assets. There are significant penalties if you don’t report all of your assets or if you undervalue them on this form.
What Does It Mean To Have a Revenue Officer Assigned to Your Case?
If an IRS revenue officer is working on your account, it means that the IRS is serious about resolving your ongoing compliance issues, tax liability, or both. Generally, the IRS involves a revenue officer when:
- A taxpayer has several delinquent tax returns.
- A taxpayer owes more than $100,000 in back taxes.
- The agency’s Automated Collection System (ACS) was unsuccessful in collecting a tax debt.
- A taxpayer owes payroll taxes or a trust fund recovery penalty.
A revenue officer’s job is to collect overdue tax returns and determine the most effective method for collecting your tax debt. These IRS employees have the authority to:
A revenue officer can also enter into an installment agreement with a taxpayer or accept any other tax debt resolution option that the taxpayer or their representative proposes.
The Revenue Officer’s Process
In most cases, IRS revenue officers start their collection process by sending this notice and contacting you over the phone. However, sometimes, the contact starts with an initial face-to-face interview. Revenue officers can show up unannounced at delinquent taxpayers’ business’s or places of work. Less commonly, they may even come to a taxpayer’s home. In other words, when taxpayers receive Form 9297, they may already know that a revenue officer is working on their account.
As of July 2023, the IRS will be much less likely to make unannounced visits for safety measures for taxpayers and IRS employees. In place of the unannounced visits, taxpayers will receive an appointment letter known as 725-B, which will help taxpayers feel more prepared when it is time to meet.
During the initial interview, the revenue officer will provide their title, name, and employee identification number. Make sure that the person in front of you is really from the IRS. Unfortunately, there are scammers who pretend to be from the IRS to steal money from people.
The revenue officer will also discuss your rights as a taxpayer and answer any questions you may have. Then, the revenue officer will do the following:
- Question you about the reason for your non-compliance or delinquency
- Request that you immediately file all past due tax returns via their office
- Request that you pay your tax debt in full or make arrangements to pay the bill.
The revenue offer will request a partial payment if you cannot make a full payment. If you tell the revenue officer that your tax debt balance is incorrect, they may let you file an amended return. In some cases, you can appeal on assessment, but it depends on the timing. In other cases, you will need to pay under protest and then request a refund.
Revenue officers are often unsuccessful in resolving tax issues during the initial interview. When this happens, the revenue officer will discuss a realistic and detailed resolution plan with you. Then, they will prepare Form 9297, outlining the documents and information they need to resolve the matter.
You can expect the revenue officer to deliver Form 9297 with Publication 1 (Your Rights as a Taxpayer) and Publication 594 (What You Should Know About the IRS Collection Process).
How Does Revenue Officer Involvement Differ From the Automated Collection System (ACS)?
The IRS Collection Division follows a three-level approach when taxpayers owe tax debt. During the first stage, a Regional Service Campus issues several delinquency notices. If the taxpayer fails to pay their tax debt, the Collection Division will forward the case to a group of employees in the Automated Collection System (ACS).
If the ACS fails to resolve the liability, the Collection Division will route the case to a revenue officer in the Collection Field function (CFf). However, the Collection Division can route a delinquent account directly to a revenue officer, bypassing the ACS.
The Automated Collection System (ACS)
The ACS typically works on low-dollar, low-risk cases involving relatively new tax debts, and its collections functions include:
- Sending delinquent notices
- Issuing liens and levies
- Answering calls
ACS employees focus on collecting full payments rather than exploring tax resolution alternatives, such as installment agreements or offers in compromise. If an ACS employee cannot resolve a case, they can transfer it to another ACS employee or the CFf for collection by a revenue officer. ACS employees have no case resolution requirements and are not personally responsible for a case’s outcome. They also tend to be the least experienced of all IRS employees.
Revenue Officers and the Central Field Function
Like the ACS, a revenue officer can answer calls, send notices, and issue liens and levies. However, unlike ACS employees, revenue officers must resolve the cases they take on, and they cannot pass a case to another collection employee. In other words, once a revenue officer becomes personally involved in your case, you can no longer ignore your tax debt.
A revenue officer has insight into a delinquent taxpayer’s financial situation and actively assists them with tax resolution options. Outgoing face-to-face or phone-based contact with delinquent taxpayers is the cornerstone of a revenue officer’s collection operations.
How Should You Respond To Form 9297?
Responding to Form 9297 and meeting its deadlines for compliance and disclosure is generally in taxpayers’ best interest. A revenue officer is responsible for resolving your tax issue, and they may react negatively to delays. For example, the revenue officer may force a response by issuing a summons or pursuing a collection action, such as a federal tax lien, bank levy, or wage garnishment.
On the other hand, if you cooperate and respond in time, the revenue officer can help you settle your liability with one of the following options:
- Installment agreement: Under this arrangement, you must make monthly payments within an extended time frame — usually three to six years.
- Partial pay plan: The agreement involves making monthly payments until the Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED). Then, the IRS forgives the unpaid portion of your liability.
- Penalty abatement: After setting up an installment agreement, you may be eligible for the removal of failure-to-deposit, failure-to-file, or failure-to-pay penalties from your tax debt balance. However, relief is never automatic. You or your representative must request penalty abatement.
- Offer in compromise: If Form 433-A (Collection Information Statement) indicates that you cannot pay your back tax balance in full, the revenue officer may allow you to settle your debt for less than you owe.
Suppose you find that some of the deadlines are unattainable. In that case, you can meet the easier demands, such as providing your pay stub and bank statements, then request a good faith one-time extension.
Alternatively, you can ask the revenue officer’s group manager to extend your deadlines or file an appeal, requesting a hearing with the IRS appeals officer. Consider representation if you feel overwhelmed by the disclosure and compliance deadlines in Form 9297.
When To Consider Representation
At the Timothy S. Hart Law Group, P.C., we recommend seeking representation if you received Form 9297 and you:
- Cannot afford to pay your tax debt in full
- Disagree with the tax balance appearing on the notice
- Do not know why you received the notice
- Disagree with the penalties appearing on your account
- Agree with the penalties but want to apply for abatement
- Have serious compliance issues and do not qualify for an installment agreement
- Believe the revenue officer is pursuing a bank levy or wage garnishment
- Believe the revenue officer is acting outside their scope of authority
You can seek representation at any time. Suppose a revenue officer shows up unannounced at your home or work for the initial interview, and you feel uncomfortable talking to them. In that case, you can tell the revenue officer you want to retain representation.
In response, the revenue officer will stop the meeting and give you ten business days to consult a tax representative. You do not need to be present when the revenue officer and your representative conduct this meeting at a later date unless the IRS issues a summons.
Frequently Asked Questions
Consequences may include fees, interest, or collection actions. IRS Form 9297 outlines the consequences near the bottom of the notice (Notification of Consequences of Failure to Provide Information).
What happens if the revenue officer shows up at my home and I’m not there?
A revenue officer will leave Form 2246 Field Contact Card if they show up at your home and you are not there.
Can a revenue officer send Form 9297 before conducting an initial interview?
Yes, a revenue officer can send Form 9297 before making face-to-face contact for the first time. Consult a tax representative when you receive this notice.
Get Help Dealing With IRS Revenue Officers Today
Dealing with an IRS revenue officer can be stressful and time-consuming, especially if you owe a significant amount or have serious compliance issues.
The good news is that you do not need to face the IRS alone. At the Timothy S. Hart Law Group, P.C., we have the tax knowledge, skills, and experience to negotiate with the IRS on your behalf and secure the best possible outcome.
Avoid aggressive collection action, such as a bank levy or wage garnishment. Instead, contact us to request a free consultation and tell us about your tax situation so that we can help you resolve the matter and achieve financial stability.