Even broken government agencies can be right twice a day — or something to that effect.
For as much general disdain and vitriol as the Internal Revenue Service engenders (and deservedly so), this latest announcement from the agency is actually noteworthy for being a move that most Americans would unequivocally agree with.
On Monday, the IRS put out a news release stating that it would be ending one of its more loathsome practices: Unannounced revenue officer visits.
Now, right off the bat, the IRS makes it clear that unnannounced revenue officer visits can still happen, as they are only ending “most unannounced visits.”
“As part of a larger transformation effort, the Internal Revenue Service today announced a major policy change that will end most unannounced visits to taxpayers by agency revenue officers to reduce public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees,” the release begins.
Hilariously, the IRS actually tried to pass off these unannounced visits as some altruistic service to the taxpayer (“to help,” they say) — and not the invasive breach of privacy it actually is.
“The change reverses a decades-long practice by IRS revenue officers, the unarmed agency employees whose duties include visiting households and businesses to help taxpayers resolve their account balances by collecting unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns,” the IRS stated.
Ah yes, because nothing is quite as helpful as “collecting” from people, totally unannounced.
As for when this new policy takes effect, by the time you read this, it already has. The IRS noted that these changes would take place “[e]ffective immediately.”
While the unannounced visits will end, it appears that the IRS will be shuffling announced visits into place.
Per the IRS, unannounced visits “will be replaced with mailed letters to schedule meetings.”
So the IRS will still get its pound of flesh from you — but it’ll at least be planned ahead of time.
“We are taking a fresh look at how the IRS operates to better serve taxpayers and the nation, and making this change is a common-sense step,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Changing this long-standing procedure will increase confidence in our tax administration work and improve overall safety for taxpayers and IRS employees.”
“NTEU welcomes the IRS decision to halt unannounced visits by IRS Field Collection employees,” said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union. “The safety of IRS employees is of paramount importance and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce.”
Okay, that last line from Reardon can’t fly without a retort.
There is nothing false or inflammatory by pointing out that the IRS had become a weaponized branch of the government — particularly under the Obama administration — no matter how much the agency protests about it.
More so, you don’t even have to go back to the Obama days to pinpoint the IRS’s numerous issues.
Just this month, the IRS quietly changed rules to make it far more difficult to pass things off to your children. Who does that benefit?
So, no, Mr. Reardon. Disdain against the IRS isn’t because of “false, inflammatory rhetoric” — it’s because of what the agency has literally done.
It’s also worth noting that in every instance of lauding this decision, whether it’s Reardon, Werfel or the IRS itself, matters of safety were mentioned in lockstep.
But again, that’s got nothing to do with prior reputation, as Reardon insists. The IRS could be the most beloved and idolized government branch in America, and its agents would still be at imminent risk showing up to houses unannounced.
So kudos to the IRS.
They made a right decision, even if it was for completely fabricated and made-up reasons.