On Monday, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it would be ceasing its practice of unannounced visits to the homes and businesses of American citizens.
As the New York Post reports, the agency will be ending the decades-old practice in order to protect agents as well as combat scammers who would pose as IRS agents in order to scam unsuspecting citizens. In a statement from the Treasury Department, any further visits will only take place “in a few unique circumstances.” Instead of the in-person visits, the agency will now simply send letters to recipients.
“Today’s announcement is the right thing to do, at the right time,” said Daniel Werfel, the new IRS Commissioner, who described it as the end of “an era at the IRS.”
The IRS has faced increased criticism in recent years for what many have called rising politicization against conservatives, as well as an unnecessary increase in power and resources after a bill was passed to add an additional 87,000 agents to the IRS payroll. Most recently, IRS agents were sent unannounced to the home of longtime Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi, a leading figure in the release of Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” exposing the social media platform’s corruption; the visit took place on the very same day that Taibbi was giving his testimony before Congress.
Werfel added that “the issues raised by unannounced visits, including ones that have been raised to us by Congress, will be significantly mitigated” by the new policy.
The Treasury’s inspector general claimed, with no evidence, that the agency was “concerned that taxpayers and anti-government or anti-tax groups with malevolent intent may use the Internet or social media to track down and identify IRS employees, their families, their homes, and personal information to threaten, intimidate, or locate them for physical violence.”
The union representing IRS agents, the National Treasury Employees Union, also lauded the end of the controversial practice, saying that ”the officers we represent will continue to efficiently and effectively carry out their mission of helping taxpayers meet their lawful tax obligations through other means of communication.”