IRS Special Agent vs Revenue Officer: What Is the Difference?

This tax season, you may find yourself facing the unpleasant surprise of a visit from a representative of the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS sometimes sends certain employees out to your home or business in an effort to collect unpaid taxes or investigate tax offenses. While no visit from the IRS is particularly welcome, it is important to understand what type of agent you are dealing with in order to gain a better understanding of what they may be after and what repercussions you may be facing. Your unexpected visit from the IRS will typically come from either an IRS Special Agent or an IRS Revenue Agent or Officer.

IRS Special Agents and Revenue Officers

What is the difference between a visit from an IRS Special Agent and a visit from an IRS Revenue Agent or Officer? The following is an overview:

  • IRS Special Agents
    • IRS Special Agents typically investigate tax offenses and crimes. They often carry badges as well as guns. These agents often travel in pairs. If you are approached by an IRS Special Agent, it is important to seek immediate representation from an experienced attorney.
  • IRS Revenue Agents or Officers
    • IRS Revenue Agents or Officers, on the other hand, have more limited powers and are not law enforcement officers. These agents carry IRS identification cards. Their job is to collect past due taxes owed by taxpayers, including income and payroll taxes. When they visit your home or business, they are there to collect information on where you live, the value of your assets, and your spending habits. Typically, these agents will be rather aggressive in trying to get you to answer questions on the spot. They often want to enter your home, though it is important to note that you do not have to allow them inside.

Regardless of the type of visit you receive from the IRS, we are here to help. Arming yourself with a solid legal team and important knowledge about the process of dealing with a tax problem will help you find a solution you can live with. We encourage you to get started by reviewing our free guide, The Ultimate Survival Guide for IRS Problems.