After months of conversation, and criticism, taxpayers across the country will finally start hearing from private debt collectors starting this month. If you are unfamiliar with this initiative, please take a moment to read through our blog post “IRS Turning to Private Debt Collectors.” This piece provides a great overview of what the program entails.
Interestingly, the conversation about the IRS’ third go-around with private debt collection has really shifted from its past failures to how the IRS will separate itself from the many IRS scammers passing themselves off as a private collection firm. To do its part to combat IRS scammers the IRS has, in the past, leaned heavily on the fact that it does not make outbound phone calls to collect taxes. That will change under private debt collection.
It has been announced that private debt collectors are only going to be assigned cases that are inactive. This means that these entities are going to be calling taxpayers that have not heard from the IRS in quite some time making the potential risk of confusion about who is calling much higher. The IRS recognizes the issue and has given advice to taxpayers to help distinguish the legitimate private debt collectors from others.
According to a recent IRS announcement, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen explains, “Here’s a simple rule to keep in mind. You won’t get a call from a private collection firm unless you have unpaid tax debts going back several years and you’ve already heard from the IRS multiple times.” He continues with, “The people included in the private collection program typically already know they have a tax issue. If you get a call from someone saying they’re from one of these groups and you’ve paid your taxes, that’s a sure sign of a scam.” The concern is that the Commissioner’s explanation may not resonate with many taxpayers. As a result, if scammers attempt to leverage private debt collection into a new tactic, taxpayers may not know who is who.
As expected, the IRS is urging all taxpayers that owe back taxes to work through a resolution sooner rather than later. And for those taxpayers unsure of where they stand with IRS the Commissioner suggests that they take the necessary steps to determine what taxes, if any, remain unpaid.
If you find yourself unsure about what you owe, contact us today.
*Want to read more? Click here to check out the latest IRS announcement.