You know, you'd think with all the challenges the IRS faces - airplanes, llelo/baking powder scares, virtual Tea Partiers - one would think that when on a collection call, agents would apply a spoonful of sugar to help the financial rectal exam go down.
Sadly, we're informed over at Tax Lawyer's Blog that it's typically much more devious than that:
Often, when a taxpayer speaks to a low-level IRS official about a tax issue the official tells him one or more of the following:
• You must pay the debt or you will be criminally prosecuted
• If you don’t pay the debt in full within so many days, your assets will be seized
• It’s a waste of money to hire an attorney
As noted Peter Pappas notes, these three points are, in a word, gobbledygook.
Despite how much you might not want to admit it, attorneys are always useful in legal situations, especially complex ones. You might be able to get out of a traffic ticket on your own but probably not a tax case. An expert is needed (whether it's a lawyer, CPA or EA). Further, as the post notes, these collectors are not the tax sages that they might present themselves to be, "[T]hese IRS officials are wholly unqualified to give legal advice to taxpayers. They aren’t lawyers, CPAs, or IRS Enrolled Agents and in the great majority of cases lack a substantial background and education in the intricacies of federal tax law."
And there is the small matter of the agent acting in the best interest of the Federal Government so the modern day Matthew isn't exactly in the best position to be giving the taxpayer advice.
IRS Collection Officials Intentionally Mislead Taxpayers [Tax Lawyer's Blog via Tax Update Blog]