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Knock, knock … Who’s there?

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in Office Management,Payroll Management

IRS … IRS, who?

Phone scams involving the IRS are so common that it has become a reflex to hang up the phone before the robocaller is even finished with the initial spiel. But what if someone knocks on your company’s door, flashes what looks like an official ID and says they’re from the IRS? How do you know for sure?

The IRS has developed guidelines to help you discern legitimate revenue officers from impostors.

I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in. The IRS deals with civil, as well as criminal, matters. And it deals with audits and collections.

Payroll tax audits don’t just happen out of the blue. Revenue agents do routinely visit businesses that are undergoing civil payroll audits, but first they send a letter regarding the impending audit. The letter also asks you to agree to set up an appointment with the revenue agent. The revenue agent may then call to discuss items needed for the audit and to confirm the meeting.

Collection matters, such as missed tax deposits that are beginning to pile up—what the IRS calls “pyramiding”—may garner unannounced visits from revenue officers.

These revenue officers are working so-called Federal Tax Deposit Alerts, which the IRS considers urgent enough to dispense with prior notice, and which are undertaken at the earliest sign that a business is falling behind on its payroll deposits.

Tip: If you get a visit from a revenue officer regarding an FTD Alert, be polite, but don’t pay. Revenue officers don’t ask for money up-front. If you’re dunned for money, you know the individual is an impostor. Then, get to the bottom of those missed deposits by requesting a copy of the company’s business tax transcript.

IRS criminal investigators may also make unannounced visits to your company during the course of an investigation. However, criminal investigators are federal law enforcement agents; they don’t demand payment. They carry law enforcement credentials, including badges.

TRUST, BUT VERIFY: IRS reps will always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and an HSPD-12 card, which is a government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of ID for federal employees and contractors. You have the right to see these credentials. Point your browser to www.fedidcard.gov to see what the ID card looks like.

A step-by-step payroll compliance guide to each pay period, month and calendar quarter of the year is now available. Download it free here.

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