Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents ensure that governments get their tax money from businesses and citizens. They review tax returns, conduct audits, identify taxes owed, and collect overdue tax payments.
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents typically do the following:
Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents are responsible for ensuring that individuals and businesses pay the taxes they owe. They ensure that tax returns are filed properly, and they follow up with taxpayers whose returns are questionable or who owe more than they have paid.
Different levels of government collect different types of taxes. The federal government deals primarily with personal and business income taxes. State governments collect income and sales taxes. Local governments collect sales and property taxes.
Because many states assess individual income taxes based on the taxpayer's reported federal adjusted gross income, tax examiners working for the federal government report to the states any adjustments or corrections they make. State tax examiners then determine whether the adjustments affect how much the taxpayer owes the state.
Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents have different duties and responsibilities:
Tax examiners usually deal with the simplest tax returns—those filed by individual taxpayers with few deductions and those filed by small businesses. At the entry level, many tax examiners do clerical tasks, such as reviewing tax returns and entering them into a computer system for processing. If there is a problem, tax examiners may contact the taxpayer to try to resolve it.
Much of a tax examiner's job involves making sure that tax credits and deductions claimed by taxpayers are lawful. If a taxpayer owes additional taxes, tax examiners adjust the total amount by assessing fees, interest, and penalties and then notify the taxpayer of the total amount owed.
Revenue agents specialize in tax-related accounting for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for equivalent agencies in state and local governments. Like tax examiners, they review returns for accuracy. However, revenue agents handle complicated tax returns of businesses and large corporations.
Many experienced revenue agents specialize in specific areas. For example, they may focus exclusively on multinational businesses. Regardless of their specialty, revenue agents must keep up to date with changes in the lengthy and complex tax laws and regulations.
Collectors, also called revenue officers in the IRS, deal with overdue accounts. The process of collecting an overdue payment starts with the revenue agent or tax examiner sending a report to the taxpayer. If the taxpayer makes no effort to pay, the case is assigned to a collector.
When a collector takes a case, he or she first sends the taxpayer a notice. The collector then works with the taxpayer to settle the debt. Settlement may involve setting up a plan in which the amount owed is paid back in small amounts over time.
Collectors verify assertions that delinquent taxpayers cannot pay their taxes. They investigate these claims by researching information on mortgages or financial statements and by locating items of value through third parties, such as neighbors or local departments of motor vehicles. Ultimately, collectors must decide whether the IRS should take a lien—a claim on an asset such as a bank account, real estate, or an automobile—to settle a debt. Collectors also have the authority to garnish wages—that is, take a portion of earned wages—to collect taxes owed.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition