The I.R.S.’s Taxpayer Experience Officer Says Open Your Mail Already

The Internal Revenue Service is on a charm offensive, as long as you don’t earn too much money.

After a multiyear pandemic pause, the agency is rebooting its collection efforts, hammering home its intent to chase down high earners who owe the most. On Thursday, the I.R.S. said it was sending letters to over 25,000 people with more than $1 million in income who had not filed tax returns since 2017.

Everyone else, the agency insists, is going to benefit from the $80 billion that the agency won via the Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed in 2022. The year before that, the I.R.S. appointed Ken Corbin as its first chief taxpayer experience officer.

So what does he do all day? I went to the agency’s headquarters in Washington to find out, which was an experience unto itself.

First, the security guards put a wand to my shoes. After some beeps, they scanned my stockinged feet. Once properly badged — with the words “Escort Only” in the largest font — I had an hour with Mr. Corbin. What follows is a condensed version, edited for clarity, of our conversation — and his advice for taxpayers like you and me.

So what’s a philosophy major like you doing in a place like this?

My wife of 25 years was a philosophy major, and I wanted her to date me.

I was actually a chemistry and philosophy major, and to pay for college, I was working at night for the I.R.S., where I’d started at age 16 in a work-study program. I remember applying to medical schools and talking to others about the expense. And my mother asked me what my reason was for wanting to be a doctor. I really like to solve problems and help people.

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