Don’t Lose Your Temper: 6 Things You Should Never Say to an IRS Officer

There are hundreds of people who are terrified of the IRS. You can say the word, ‘audit,’ and the panic is quickly apparent. This can be for good reason, as tax evasion is a punishable crime. But if you handle working with one of the officers in the correct way, you should have no problem sorting your affairs out. With all the tension surrounding taxes and even confusion at times, there is plenty to get upset over. It’s important that when you do, you are careful about what you say to avoid making things more difficult. Whether you are dealing with an audit, unclaimed income, or another error, being polite and careful with your wording can go a long way. Take a moment to learn more about IRS officers so everything goes well.  Here are some sentiments you need to be reconsider saying if you want everything to go in your favor.

I’ll Tell You Everything.”

Believe it or not, the IRS loves when people tell them too many details. There is such a thing as over sharing and when it comes to your taxes and the IRS, it’s best not to mention anything unless they ask for it specifically. Professionals advise that you respond honestly and politely to all questions but to keep your answers to the point, without any voluntary information. This is particularly true if you are working through an audit. Try not to panic and keep in mind your agent is likely just trying to let you explain why you think that their decision is wrong. If you are someone who tends to ramble when you get stressed, consider making some note cards to read off. These can help you stay on track and not overshare.

“Sure, You Can Come Over.”

The IRS is intimidating and therefore many people find they say something only to end up asking, “Why did I just say that?’  This includes inviting an agent over to your home or office without considering what can go wrong. You don’t want to let all your records and office become available if you don’t have to. You can decline an agent requesting to meet at your office or in your home, it is within your rights. If they persist, you can offer to record a video as a resolution. On the other hand, if you are part of an investigation for criminal tax-evasion, you need to get a good attorney fast. Legal representation will help you navigate an investigation much better than doing so on your own.

Anything Threatening

It should be a no-brainer to not say anything threatening to the IRS, but believe it or not, people lose their temper. Threatening the IRS is akin to threatening our government and saying something like, “I’ll blow the place up before I pay another cent,” is going to get you in big trouble. You could even get 15 months of probation for saying something similar.

“I’m sorry I missed the payment, but…”

Your IRS agent can be very easy to work with if you make reasonable promises and keep them. Don’t commit to making a monthly payment that you won’t be able to fit in your budget. If you fail to make these payments, the government may not grant you leniency should another instance arise. If there is an extreme circumstance that is going to cause you to miss a payment, call the IRS ahead and let them know what is happening and when they should expect payment from you.

You can opt to make fairly small monthly installments when needed, depending on your financial state. This will help you stay on track and not breach the contract, therefore keeping you in good standing.

“I Will Fight This with Everything.”

If you want the situation to escalate, have some angry outbursts. It is best to take a few minutes to pause when the situation starts getting to tense. If you have a complex tax case, you may be working with an agent for some time. Getting angry, saying things you regret and losing your temper will only make it more difficult. Remember your IRS agent has been well versed in working with angry people. They know what to say and usually have several scripts for every possible conversation. Your anger is not going to make the problem easier to navigate, only harder.

Instead of saying something like this, take a deep breath and resolve to get the details you need to fight it. Whether that means taking the time to ask extra questions, take more notes or to ask for specific agent details. Keeping composed and knowing you’re going to do what it takes to find a solid resolution to your affair will go a lot further than getting angry and verbalizing your willingness to fight.

Anything Untrue

You do not want to get caught in any sort of lie with the IRS, even a very small one. This will lead to your being found guilty and potentially cost you financially. If you lie on any IRS form or to any IRS employee, it is considered a criminal offense. This means you can be charged and put into prison. When you are not sure about anything, it is better to say you do not know or you can’t recall than to stretch the truth.

When the details become fuzzy, if you make up something, the IRS could take it out of context and potentially create their own version of facts. This version could get you arrested for criminal offense.

The biggest thing to remember when working with the IRS to resolve a tax situation is to remain calm. Becoming afraid and letting yourself panic thinking about the worse case scenarios will only make things more difficult. Making decisions out of fear will lead you to disclose too many details, possibly misspeak or falsify a story, leading to further trouble. If you are in the middle of an audit or other tax issue it’s a good idea to take the time to learn more about IRS officers.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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