A revenue officer works for a government agency that collects taxes and other revenue on behalf of the government. The term is commonly used in reference to agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, but most tax agencies have similar employees. They are like the ground troops of the government agencies they work for, working to enforce the tax code and to collect on delinquent accounts.
The duties of a revenue officer can vary, depending on where he or she works. Officers may inspect accounts and tax returns, looking for signs of noncompliance and concern. They also look for issues such as late payments or delinquent accounts. Usually, the goal is to act quickly, before an account becomes any more delinquent, as the ability to recover funds can recline dramatically once an account starts to fall into arrears.
Many spend time in the field, meeting directly with taxpayers in addition to conducting third party interviews. When accounts are delinquent, they try to collect on them by arranging a payment plan or taking payment in full. They also have the power to seize assets and funds to satisfy account delinquencies, and they can place liens and holds on assets to ensure that people with delinquencies cannot sell property or other assets before the government has a chance to collect its share.
Working as a revenue officer can be challenging. Most citizens are not thrilled to see people in this profession, especially if they are in arrears or struggling to make payments to the government, and they can sometimes be very hostile. Officers are not armed, and they may seek the support and assistance of police if they feel that they are entering dangerous situations. They must also endure verbal abuse from angry taxpayers, and they have to be skilled communicators and interviewers so that they can get to the bottom of a taxpayer's issues.
To get a job in this field, people can file an application at the government agency they are interested in. Many revenue officers have accounting experience, although this may not always be required. Candidates will typically need to take a civil service exam and pass a background test. Background tests are used to determine whether or not individuals are trustworthy enough to handle government funds, and to find out if candidates have conflicts of interest or sources of financial stress that could make them vulnerable to bribery.