The IRS has released a Fact Sheet to help taxpayers understand how and why agency representatives may contact them and how to identify them and avoid scams.
Generally, the IRS sends a letter or written notice to a taxpayer in advance, but not always. Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. Further, the IRS clarified that other than IRS Secure Access, the agency does not use text messages to discuss personal tax issues, such as those involving bills or refunds. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail. Taxpayers can report fraudulent emails and text messages by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further, taxpayers will generally first receive several letters from the IRS in the mail before receiving a phone call. However, the IRS may call taxpayers if they have an overdue tax bill, a delinquent or unfiled tax return or have not made an employment tax deposit. The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening voice messages and will never call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method, threaten to immediately bring in law enforcement groups, demand tax payment without giving the taxpayer an opportunity or ask for credit or debit cards over the phone.
Additionally, IRS revenue officers generally make unannounced visits to a taxpayers home or place of business to discuss taxes owed or tax returns due. However, taxpayers would have first been notified by mail of their balance due or missing return. Taxpayers should always ask for credentials or identification when visited by IRS personnel.
Finally, the IRS clarified that taxpayers who have filed a petition with the U.S. Tax Court may receive a call or voicemail message from an Appeals Officer. However, the Appeals Officer will provide self-identifying information such as their name, title, badge number and contact information.