The IRS May Pursue Judicial Enforcement of a Summons on a Taxpayer

Receiving a summons from the IRS is never a pleasant experience. A summons may order you to produce certain documents or information for the IRS, or it may order you to appear and provide testimony. Regardless of the action or information requested of you, responding properly to the summons is crucial to resolving your tax problems. It is important to note, however, that an IRS summons is not self-enforcing. This means that in order to force you to comply, the IRS must take further action.

Understanding the Enforcement of an IRS Summons

In order to enforce a summons against a taxpayer, the IRS must do the following:

  1. Seek an order from a federal district court with the proper jurisdiction,
  2. Show that the investigation will be conducted pursuant to a legitimate purpose,
  3. Show that its inquiry is relevant to that purpose,
  4. Demonstrate that the information being sought is not already available and in the IRS’s possession,
  5. Prove that it has complied with all of the administrative steps required under the Internal Revenue Code.

If the IRS pursues enforcement in a federal district court, the court will usually order the taxpayer to appear and show cause as to why compliance with the summons should not be enforced. If the taxpayer fails to appear, he or she may be held in contempt. It is therefore not advisable to take action or fail to respond with regard to a summons without first consulting with an experienced attorney. If you are experiencing tax problems and have been issued a summons by the IRS, contact us to find out how we may be able to help.

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