IRS policy allowing surprise visits on taxpayers limited after Judiciary Republicans’ probing, report says

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FIRST ON FOX: The House Judiciary Committee’s select subcommittee on government weaponization says the IRS rolled back unannounced visits to U.S. taxpayers after pressure from the panel.

‘The Committee’s and Select Subcommittee’s oversight revealed, and led to the swift end of, the IRS’s weaponization of unannounced field visits to harass, intimidate, and target taxpayers,’ the Republican-led report said.

‘Taxpayers can now rest assured the IRS will not come knocking without providing prior notice—something that should have been the IRS’s practice all along.’

The 22-page document focuses on two instances in which the IRS is accused of abusing its policy, including one in which a tax agent is accused of entering someone’s home under false pretenses. 

An IRS agent purportedly introduced himself as ‘Bill Haus’ to a woman only identified as a ‘Marion County, Ohio taxpayer’ when coming to her home in April this year. After allowing him inside, he allegedly told her that she owed a substantial amount of money on an estate she owned.

‘Prior to the visit, however, the taxpayer had not received any notice from the IRS of an outstanding balance on the estate,’ the report said.

After the taxpayer showed documents disputing that she owed any money, the report said, ‘Agent ‘Haus’ conceded that the true purpose of his visit was not due to any issue with the decedent’s estate, rather Agent ‘Haus’ was at the taxpayer’s home because the decedent allegedly had several delinquent tax return filings.’

A footnote on the report stated that the agent’s supervisor confirmed the taxpayer had nothing due and just one delinquent filing from 2016.

The woman called her lawyer after being asked to fill out sensitive tax documents, upon which her attorney ‘immediately and repeatedly told Agent ‘Haus’ to leave the taxpayer’s home since the taxpayer had not received any prior notice from the IRS of any issue with the decedent’s estate or delinquent tax returns.’

‘Agent ‘Haus’ responded aggressively, insisting, ‘I am an IRS agent, I can be at and go into anyone’s house at any time I want to be.’ At the end of his unannounced visit, Agent ‘Haus’ told the taxpayer he would mail her paperwork for her to execute and threatened that she would have exactly one week to satisfy the remaining balance or he would freeze all her assets and put a lien on her house,’ the report said.

The woman contacted police after the visit, who later found that the agent did work for the IRS — but that ‘Bill Haus’ was not his real name. His supervisor apologized to her the following May, the report said.

The other incident mentioned is involves journalist Matt Taibbi, whose home received a surprise IRS visit while he was in Washington, D.C. testifying about social media censorship uncovered by the ‘Twitter Files.’ 

‘The IRS’s dossier on Mr. Taibbi included information such as Mr. Taibbi’s voter registration records, whether he possessed a hunting or fishing license, and whether he had a concealed weapons permit. The revenue officer also examined and saved Mr. Taibbi’s Wikipedia page, which contained extensive details about Mr. Taibbi’s work on the Twitter Files,’ the report said.

‘Instead of reinitiating contact with Mr. Taibbi by less intrusive means after several years had passed since he filed his 2018 return, the revenue officer scheduled its field visit for March 9, 2023-the day Mr. Taibbi was to testify before Congress.’

The IRS announced in late July that it ‘will end most unannounced visits…to reduce public confusion and enhance overall safety measures for taxpayers and employees.’

But the GOP report heaped doubt on that explanation for reducing the practice. 

‘The IRS’s attempt to justify its decision as being in the best interest of the safety of its revenue officers lacks concrete evidence. To the extent this data does exist, the IRS has not made it publicly available or supplied it to the Committee or Select Subcommittee,’ it said.

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