IRS employee safety guidelines


J

jake johnson

I found these guidelines posted deep in the bowels of the
IRS website today.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/irs_employee_safety_security.pdf

It primarily addresses a situation where an examination is
to be conducted at a practitioner's office but the security
staff at the office building request to see more than the
agent's government-issued ID badge. (The guard might not be
familiar with what an authentic IRS badge looks like, after
all, and might prefer to see a their personal driver's
license.)

On privacy grounds, these guidelines prohibit the agent from
being required to provide these personal ID's and authorize
the agent to invoke the authority to instead hold the
examination at the IRS offices, if necessary.

I'm just not sure that I follow why an IRS agent would have
an issue with providing a personal ID just as everyone else
would have to do. Is it because the personal ID would have
their home addresse & SSN on it? I don't see why everyone
wouldn't be just as vulnerable.

- Jake
 
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P

Phil Marti

On privacy grounds, these guidelines prohibit the agent from
being required to provide these personal ID's and authorize
the agent to invoke the authority to instead hold the
examination at the IRS offices, if necessary.

I'm just not sure that I follow why an IRS agent would have
an issue with providing a personal ID just as everyone else
would have to do.
The fear that some whacko is going to visit in the middle of
the night.

I don't recall this ever being an issue in my IRS days, but
I don't think I would have given even building security my
home information.

BTW, it seems a little intrusive to me for an office
building to be asking for personal ID when you're visiting
on behalf of your employer, but what do I know?

Phil Marti
Topeka, KS
 
F

Frederick Jorden

jake said:
I found these guidelines posted deep in the bowels of the
IRS website today.

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/irs_employee_safety_security.pdf

It primarily addresses a situation where an examination is
to be conducted at a practitioner's office but the security
staff at the office building request to see more than the
agent's government-issued ID badge. (The guard might not be
familiar with what an authentic IRS badge looks like, after
all, and might prefer to see a their personal driver's
license.)

On privacy grounds, these guidelines prohibit the agent from
being required to provide these personal ID's and authorize
the agent to invoke the authority to instead hold the
examination at the IRS offices, if necessary.

I'm just not sure that I follow why an IRS agent would have
an issue with providing a personal ID just as everyone else
would have to do. Is it because the personal ID would have
their home addresse & SSN on it? I don't see why everyone
wouldn't be just as vulnerable.
Every time I deal with a law officer who flashes a badge I
insist that the officer show me his photo ID. This ID is
issued by his employer and generally sufficient to verify
his identity. In today's society to not permit a taxpayer or
his agent to verify the identity of someone who claims he is
an IRS auditor is ridiculous.
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

jake said:
I'm just not sure that I follow why an IRS agent would have
an issue with providing a personal ID just as everyone else
would have to do. Is it because the personal ID would have
their home addresse & SSN on it? I don't see why everyone
wouldn't be just as vulnerable.
What they are saying is, essentially, that conducting the
examination at the "offsite location" isn't required if
there are conditions imposed on that examination. So if the
IRS agent wishes to refuse to comply with the request to
more fully document his/her identity (and I suspect it is
due to the fact it could be used by the unscrupulous as a
ruse to get personal information on the agent) that does not
give the taxpayer a "free pass" on the exam. And that
unscrupulous person might not necessarily be the taxpayer or
the practitioner--it's possible the security person might
have a beef with the IRS (or know someone who does) and
would like to get that information for nefarious purposes
once he or she had discovered the person was an agent.

I suspect most agents aren't going to take advantage of that
provision in most cases. But it gives them the right to do
so if the situation just doesn't "feel right" to the agent.
As well, it gives the agent a bargaining chip with the
practitioner to "call off the dogs" <grin> at the security
gate.
 
P

Phil Marti

Every time I deal with a law officer who flashes a badge I
insist that the officer show me his photo ID. This ID is
issued by his employer and generally sufficient to verify
his identity.
That's not the gist of the guidelines as I read them. IRS
field employees have two pieces of government photo ID,
which anyone is free to see (when the employee's on
business). For anyone to demand of an employee a driver's
license, with the employee's home address on it, in such a
setting strikes me as totally inappropriate, just as it
would be if you asked the same of the cop.

Phil Marti
Topeka, KS
 
F

Frederick Jorden

On privacy grounds, these guidelines prohibit the agent from
The fear that some whacko is going to visit in the middle of
the night.

I don't recall this ever being an issue in my IRS days, but
I don't think I would have given even building security my
home information.

BTW, it seems a little intrusive to me for an office
building to be asking for personal ID when you're visiting
on behalf of your employer, but what do I know?
Because of the failure of Government to prevent 9/11 many
private organizations have been forced to up security
levels. When I go to the Richmond Federal Building I am
forced to leave my pen knife, legal under Federal and
Virginia Law, with the rent a cop at the building entry.
What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
 
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F

Frederick Jorden

jake johnson wrote:
What they are saying is, essentially, that conducting the
examination at the "offsite location" isn't required if
there are conditions imposed on that examination. So if the
IRS agent wishes to refuse to comply with the request to
more fully document his/her identity (and I suspect it is
due to the fact it could be used by the unscrupulous as a
ruse to get personal information on the agent) that does not
give the taxpayer a "free pass" on the exam. And that
unscrupulous person might not necessarily be the taxpayer or
the practitioner--it's possible the security person might
have a beef with the IRS (or know someone who does) and
would like to get that information for nefarious purposes
once he or she had discovered the person was an agent.

I suspect most agents aren't going to take advantage of that
provision in most cases. But it gives them the right to do
so if the situation just doesn't "feel right" to the agent.
As well, it gives the agent a bargaining chip with the
practitioner to "call off the dogs" <grin> at the security
gate.
The security guards at the gate may not be in the employ of
the taxpayer! They may work for the landlord of the office
building involved. All I know is that if an IRS agent thinks
he is beyond verification of his identity at the North Anna
nuclear power plant he will get to meet lots of FBI,
Virginia State Police, sheriff's deputies, and security
employees of Dominion Resources. IRS agents are not above
the law.
 
H

Harlan Lunsford

Frederick said:
Every time I deal with a law officer who flashes a badge I
insist that the officer show me his photo ID. This ID is
issued by his employer and generally sufficient to verify
his identity. In today's society to not permit a taxpayer or
his agent to verify the identity of someone who claims he is
an IRS auditor is ridiculous.
Speaking of badges, I can't recall ever seeing one or even
asking any IRS employee to show me his/hers. After all,
down this way we know the IRS personnel or have other ways
to verify who they are before they get here.

I ask the question because one of my clients is going to be
visited by a 'money anti-laundering specialist" next month
in order to check on whether or not he should have/did file
form 8300's.

For those in the know, what does a CID badget look like?

Cheer$,
Harlan Lunsford, EA n LA
 
M

MTW

Harlan said:
For those in the know, what does a CID badget look like?
I don't recall specifically, but I have seen 'em !!

I ALWAYS ask field agents to present official ID when
meeting not at an IRS office.

MTW
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

Frederick said:
The security guards at the gate may not be in the employ of
the taxpayer! They may work for the landlord of the office
building involved. All I know is that if an IRS agent thinks
he is beyond verification of his identity at the North Anna
nuclear power plant he will get to meet lots of FBI,
Virginia State Police, sheriff's deputies, and security
employees of Dominion Resources. IRS agents are not above
the law.
No one is saying you have to *admit* the IRS agent to the
building if he refuses to show the document. I'm not
required to submit to going through the security checks at
the airport either--but if I plan to get on the flight I'm
scheduled to make in just over a week, I'm probably going to
have to do it. In this case, the IRS agent is merely going
to require the taxpayer to meet him somewhere else to
conduct the examination--perhaps down at the federal
building.

P.S. - I would suggest you might not get far by insisting on
seeing the driver's license and a litany of other documents
of a law enforcement official who has legitimate cause to
enter the building. Rather the rent-a-cop might find himself
going down to become a guest of the government and getting
his own personal security search <grin>.
 
P

Phil Marti

Harlan Lunsford said:
For those in the know, what does a CID badget look like?
It's been a while, but in my day the CID special agents had
badges that looked like badges. Revenue agents and officers
had "pocket commissions" that had photos and lots of
official gobbledygook, but no badge.

Phil

Phil Marti
Topeka, KS
 
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F

Frederick Jorden

It's been a while, but in my day the CID special agents had
badges that looked like badges. Revenue agents and officers
had "pocket commissions" that had photos and lots of
official gobbledygook, but no badge.
The CIDs had photo ID cards the last time I had contact with
a pair at my office.
 
F

Frederick Jorden

Frederick Jorden wrote:
No one is saying you have to *admit* the IRS agent to the
building if he refuses to show the document. I'm not
required to submit to going through the security checks at
the airport either--but if I plan to get on the flight I'm
scheduled to make in just over a week, I'm probably going to
have to do it. In this case, the IRS agent is merely going
to require the taxpayer to meet him somewhere else to
conduct the examination--perhaps down at the federal
building.

P.S. - I would suggest you might not get far by insisting on
seeing the driver's license and a litany of other documents
of a law enforcement official who has legitimate cause to
enter the building. Rather the rent-a-cop might find himself
going down to become a guest of the government and getting
his own personal security search <grin>.
Ed you are confusing me with the refusal by the agents of
the property owner that I lease my office from. Many
landlords have adopted policies for security that are beyond
the control of the building tenants. Just like nonsmoking
policies. I would be satisfied by an IRS issued photo ID,
but not a badge without a photo.
 
T

TaxSrv

Ed Zollars said:
... And that
unscrupulous person might not necessarily be the taxpayer or
the practitioner--it's possible the security person might
have a beef with the IRS (or know someone who does) and
would like to get that information for nefarious purposes
once he or she had discovered the person was an agent.
That's all true, theoretically, but if the same IRS employee
takes out an auto loan, the same info and more will be eyed
by a whole bunch of people, any one whom may have evil in
mind.

The IRS guideline should be viewed in context of its being
unionized, and management must address such an issue likely
raised by the union in good faith, practical nonissue though
it may be. If an IRS employee needs to show a driver's
license to enter a private sector building, he/she does it
like everyone else entering that bldg -- show that document
and no more. Same drill as tendering a check at a grocery
store.

For this reason, this example of incessant missives from HQ
are occasionally viewed by IRS ee's, having enough common
sense to make them unqualified to write these things, as
more than inscrutable.

Fred F.
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

Frederick said:
Ed you are confusing me with the refusal by the agents of
the property owner that I lease my office from. Many
landlords have adopted policies for security that are beyond
the control of the building tenants. Just like nonsmoking
policies. I would be satisfied by an IRS issued photo ID,
but not a badge without a photo.
That's fine, but the agent still doesn't need to comply with
that request merely to get in. If the government official
has a right to get in (law enforcement let's say), then the
rent-a-cop needs to give way regardless of "building policy"
or face certain problems. If the government official is
there at your request and for your convenience, the official
can simply refuse to comply with the request and force you
to meet them on their turf.

That is, you would face the consequences of your hired
representative's actions in this regard. The government
employee is not going to be required to disclose personal
information (his/her physical home address) at the whim of
whomever might own the building.

As I said, I understand the purpose of this. If an IRS
agent had to do whatever the building owner requested in
order to gain entrance, then all kinds of mischief could be
carried out. So this gives a "bright line" that simply
throws the consequences of rejecting the government issued
identification in order to require some other one on the lap
of the taxpayer.

I guess I understand because I've once too often hit the
"company policy" line when trying to get information from
organizations they are required to give by law (such as to a
former plan participant). I always find it amusing when such
cases make it to court and it is pointed out that the
entity's policy manual doesn't serve to override federal law
<grin>.
 
E

Ed Zollars, CPA

TaxSrv said:
That's all true, theoretically, but if the same IRS employee
takes out an auto loan, the same info and more will be eyed
by a whole bunch of people, any one whom may have evil in
mind.
Perhaps--but, then again, the agent can elect not to buy the
car. No problem there as it's a voluntary transaction. My
brother, who is a Phoenix police officer, will do the same
thing. But on the job, there are a number of cases where he
cannot be forced to "jump through hoops" imposed by a
building owner once he has presented his government issued
badge.

As I note, quite often rules like this are created to simply
create a rule that can be referred to when someone is being
abusive. That is, the agent cannot be required to show more
than his official identification. If the rule was that
he/she had to show "reasonable" identification, then we'd
have created the potential for a game to push to see just
how far we could go with "reasonable" requests, which if the
agent didn't comply with, would let the taxpayer off the
hook. And there are definitely those out there who would
play that game.
 
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H

Harlan Lunsford

Frederick said:
Every time I deal with a law officer who flashes a badge I
insist that the officer show me his photo ID. This ID is
issued by his employer and generally sufficient to verify
his identity. In today's society to not permit a taxpayer or
his agent to verify the identity of someone who claims he is
an IRS auditor is ridiculous.
At our state society two day seminar just concluded I asked
about this issue and the IRS speaker replied that all badges
these days have photos on them. Further, in response to my
second question, that CID badges are very prominently so
marked.

Cheer$,
Harlan Lunsford, EA n LA
 
H

Harlan Lunsford

MTW said:
Harlan Lunsford wrote:
I don't recall specifically, but I have seen 'em !!
I JUST noticed that I referred to it as a "CID badget". That
is not to imply that I think IRS gets their "badGETS" out of
a Cracker Jack (tm) box.

Cheer$,
Harlan Lunsford, EA n LA
 
F

Frederick Jorden

Frederick Jorden wrote:
That's fine, but the agent still doesn't need to comply with
that request merely to get in. If the government official
has a right to get in (law enforcement let's say), then the
rent-a-cop needs to give way regardless of "building policy"
or face certain problems. If the government official is
there at your request and for your convenience, the official
can simply refuse to comply with the request and force you
to meet them on their turf.

That is, you would face the consequences of your hired
representative's actions in this regard. The government
employee is not going to be required to disclose personal
information (his/her physical home address) at the whim of
whomever might own the building.

As I said, I understand the purpose of this. If an IRS
agent had to do whatever the building owner requested in
order to gain entrance, then all kinds of mischief could be
carried out. So this gives a "bright line" that simply
throws the consequences of rejecting the government issued
identification in order to require some other one on the lap
of the taxpayer.

I guess I understand because I've once too often hit the
"company policy" line when trying to get information from
organizations they are required to give by law (such as to a
former plan participant). I always find it amusing when such
cases make it to court and it is pointed out that the
entity's policy manual doesn't serve to override federal law
<grin>.
But then IRS regulations, no matter how well crafted, could
run afoul of violation of public policy in regards to
reasonable actions to maintain security on his property by
citizens in the post 9/11 world.
 
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E

Ed Zollars, CPA

Frederick said:
But then IRS regulations, no matter how well crafted, could
run afoul of violation of public policy in regards to
reasonable actions to maintain security on his property by
citizens in the post 9/11 world.
There will always be certain conflicts--the issue will be
whether the current answer (you need to come to the IRS
office) is a reasonable compromise between the goals and
rights of each party. My guess is the courts would find it
so, and not require the IRS employees to disclose whatever
information a building owner on a whim might decide he/she
wants under the guise of security.

Given the relatively ease of forging drivers licenses and
the like, I suspect there's also a real question about just
what true increase in "security" is provided by demanding
that document. Our theory is that our "rent-a-cop" doesn't
know what an IRS identification document looks like--but
then we think he/she really knows what all 50 states drivers
licenses look like--especially all currently valid variants
(in Arizona, with extremely long periods during which the
license is valid, there are a *bunch* of different cards
that are still valid).

My own take is that such "security" is, at best, window
dressing meant primarily to show the party is "doing
something" rather than actually doing a whole lot to
increase the security of the building.

I'm probably a pretty good example--my own driver's license
picture looks very little like me now (lost quite a bit of
weight), and since it's scheduled to be valid through 2020
(no kidding) that was going to be inevitable. But I've only
*once* had anyone suggest the license was a problem as an
ID--and that was a clerk at a gift shop in a hotel.
Security people have *never* even taken a second look at it.

I half suspect I could present my wife's ID and get through
most such checkpoints...<grin>

So, to get back on topic, it would seem that if you required
IRS employees to comply with any request to produce personal
information where the person asking said the magic word
"security" would simply invite targeted abuse. Considering
that it wouldn't take much to move the target to attempting
to get other sensitive information from other federal
officers, I suspect the courts would likely side with the
government agency if push came to shove <grin>.
 

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