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Understanding Different Roles IRS Personnel Play in Your Case

Understanding Different Roles IRS Personnel Play in Your Case

Understanding Different Roles IRS Personnel Play in Your Case

Understanding Different Roles IRS Personnel Play in Your Case

For some people, dealing with the IRS can be a scary and overwhelming process. They read some of the fear-mongering website online, and find themselves going down one rabbit hole after the next.

It is important to realize that not all IRS personnel are created equal.

Understanding Different Roles IRS Personnel Play

Getting a visit from two IRS special agents is scary; sitting across from a litigation or trial Attorney in an IRS Investigation is also scary. These two situations are not common.

More commonly, you will be sitting across from an IRS Examiner, or having your taxes reviewed by a Revenue Agent.

These positions are “lower-level” IRS positions. They do not require a tax or legal background.

And, while these personnel will be trained to evaluate your taxes, they have very limited authority, and generally are not adversarial (since they’re not attorneys.)

Examiner vs. Supervisor vs. IRS Agent

Let’s compare two titles are the IRS:

IRS Special Agent

As detailed below, an IRS Special Agent is a serious position, in which the agent is tasked with uncovering financial and other complex crimes. An IRS Special Agent may be an attorney (and/or have a legal background).

IRS Examiner or Officer 

An IRS Examiner or Officer is typically an entry-level, non-attorney position. These IRS employees will generally not have any legal or tax background — which usually results in a much less “scary” experience for the taxpayer (which is a good-thing for the taxpayer)

Let’s explore some of the more common positions in audit and/or investigation types of matters.

Contacted by an Examiner, Agent or Tax Law Specialist?

Your first introduction to the IRS may be a basic audit. The audit may be a “paper” or “correspondence” audit, or possibly an in-person or business audit.

This is typically the first stop on the IRS food-chain. The person reviewing your taxes is usually a recent graduate of 2 or 4-year college or university.

We have found many of these IRS staff members to be overall pleasant, and less adversarial (since they are not attorneys).

*They have a very limited scope in the services they perform.

How does the IRS describe these Entry-Level positions?

IRS Examiner


This position reviews tax returns for accuracy and completeness, reviews and codes tax returns for computer processing, resolves errors and corresponds with taxpayers to obtain any missing information”

Revenue Agent


“In the IRS’ Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE) division, you’ll conduct examinations of individuals and small businesses to determine federal tax liability.”

IRS Tax Law Specialist


“As a Specialist, you’ll leverage the latest in mini and micro computers, telecommunications and data management systems.  You’ll be a proactive decision-maker working with customers, businesses and the legal and financial communities.


Communicating with a Manager, Supervisor or Appeals Officer?

Your next meeting or communication with the IRS may be someone a bit more senior, such as an appeals officer, supervisor or technical manager.

These positions are higher-up the IRS food-chain.

The person you are communicating with will generally have more power or leeway to resolve your issue:

How does the IRS describe these Mid-Level Positions?

IRS Management Role


“You will be responsible for assigning, directing, and reviewing the work of subordinate employees.


You will use your leadership skills and management techniques for planning, scheduling, and coordinating work operations, planning and carrying out the training and development of employees, evaluating employees’ work performance, and in performing all other related administrative functions”


Revenue Officer

The role of the Revenue Officer is to collect taxes that are delinquent and have not been paid to the IRS and to secure tax returns that are overdue from taxpayers.  


To fulfill this role, Revenue Officers:  Conduct face-to-face interviews with taxpayers (and/or their representatives) at the taxpayer’s place of business or residence or, on rare occasions, at the Revenue Officer’s office.


These interviews may be scheduled or unscheduled (cold calls), depending upon the case. This is done as part of the investigative process of collecting delinquent taxes and securing delinquent tax returns.


Appeals Officer


Independent by statute, staffed by highly trained professionals who provide mediation for any taxpayer contesting IRS compliance actions.


Appeals is the last opportunity for the IRS and a taxpayer to resolve disputes prior to litigation, and ensures that all taxpayers can receive an impartial review of their tax case.

As an IRS Appeals Officer, you’ll conduct Appeals conferences to settle cases in which taxpayers have appealed IRS determinations on their tax case or filed a petition


Advanced IRS Position Example: Special Agent

When clients contact us with more serious inquiries involving offshore and foreign tax matters, it is generally because they were contacted by an IRS Special Agent.

If you are contacted by a Special Agent, you should always retain counsel first, since the agent is assessing you for criminal culpability.

How does the IRS describe a More Advanced Position?

IRS Special Agent

As financial investigators, CI Special Agents fill a unique niche in the federal law enforcement community.


Today’s sophisticated schemes to defraud the government demand the analytical ability of financial investigators to wade through complex paper and computerized financial records. Due to the increased use of automation for financial records, CI Special Agents are trained to recover computer evidence.


Along with their financial investigative skills, they use specialized forensic technology to recover financial data that may have been encrypted, password protected or hidden by other electronic means.

Do You Need an Attorney to Deal with the IRS?

Generally, when a person is communicating with the IRS, they will benefit from having an Attorney. This is because it helps protect the attorney-client privilege.

And, since the matter involves both tax and legal issues, clients generally beneift from having a dually-licensed Attorney/Enrolled Agent, or Attormey/CPA.

Golding & Golding, A PLC

We specialize exclusively in IRS Offshore & Voluntary Disclosure.

We have successfully represented clients in more than 1,000 streamlined and voluntary offshore disclosure submissions nationwide and in over 70-different countries. We have represented thousands of individuals and businesses with international tax problems.

We are the “go-to” firm for other Attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Accountants, and Financial Professionals across the globe.

Golding & Golding (Board Ceritfied Specialist in Tax Law)

Golding & Golding (Board Certified Specialist in Tax Law)

Interested in Filing under IRS Amnesty Procedures?

No matter where in the world you reside, our international tax team can get you IRS offshore compliant.

Golding & Golding specializes in offshore tax and reporting amnesty. Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.

International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC

International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC

Golding & Golding: Our international tax lawyers practice exclusively in the area of IRS Offshore & Voluntary Disclosure. We represent clients in 70+ different countries. Managing Partner Sean M. Golding is a Board-Certified Tax Law Specialist Attorney (a designation earned by < 1% of attorneys nationwide.). He leads a full-service offshore disclosure & tax law firm. Sean and his team have represented thousands of clients nationwide & worldwide in all aspects of IRS offshore & voluntary disclosure and compliance during his 20-year career as an Attorney.

Sean holds a Master's in Tax Law from one of the top Tax LL.M. programs in the country at the University of Denver. He has also earned the prestigious IRS Enrolled Agent credential. Mr. Golding's articles have been referenced in such publications as the Washington Post, Forbes, Nolo, and various Law Journals nationwide.
International Tax Lawyers - Golding & Golding, A PLC

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