Know How the IRS Contacts Taxpayers

You may have received one of those phone scams where the caller claims to be with the IRS and you are being informed of your imminent arrest. You might also have received a very official looking email.

But if you know how the IRS contacts taxpayers, you can avoid becoming a victim of scammers who pretend to be from the IRS. These scammers have one goal: catch you off guard, cause you to panic, and get you to give them your personal information.

You can rest easy by knowing some facts about how the IRS communicates with taxpayers:

  • The IRS does not normally initiate contact with taxpayers by email.
  • The agency does not send text messages or contact people through social media.
  • When the IRS needs to contact a taxpayer, the first contact is normally by letter delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.

Be aware that fraudsters will send fake documents through the mail and may claim they have already notified you by U.S. mail.

  • Depending on the situation, IRS employees may first call or visit with a taxpayer. The IRS may or may not send a letter or written notice to the taxpayer in advance.
  • IRS agents, or tax compliance officers, may call a taxpayer or tax professional after mailing a notice to confirm an appointment or to discuss items for a scheduled audit.
  • Private debt collectors can call taxpayers for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax liabilities but ONLY after the taxpayer and their representative have received written notice.
  • IRS officers and agents routinely make unannounced visits to a taxpayer’s home or place of business to discuss taxes owed, delinquent tax returns, or a business falling behind on payroll tax deposits. IRS officers will request payment of taxes owed by the taxpayer. However, taxpayers should remember that payment will never be requested to a source other than the U.S. Treasury.
  • When visited by someone from the IRS, the taxpayer should always ask for credentials. IRS representatives can always provide two forms of official credentials: a pocket commission and a Personal Identity Verification Credential.


First, do not panic. These notices affect most taxpayers the same way. They cause you to feel fear, anxiety, and often embarrassment. As a result, many taxpayers enter into a hasty settlement.

Every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. To explore your rights and the obligation the IRS has to protect those rights, visit our Taxpayer Rights page.

Most Importantly, know that you are not in this alone. You are entitled to representation. Every problem is different and unique.

If you have questions about a notice or the authenticity of a notice you have received from the IRS, call our office today at 704-912-4002 or send us a message via our Contact page. Our tax problem solvers at Tax Help Advisors, LLC can analyze your particular tax situation and advise you on the best options.

You may never have to meet with the IRS.