At this point we should all know to be on the alert for official-sounding callers who are posing as IRS representatives. Some recently enacted legislation is about to make it even harder to know who you’re talking to.
Beginning in the Spring of 2017, the IRS will be required to enter into tax collection contracts with third party firms for the collection of certain outstanding inactive tax receivables. Because private collection agencies frequently use aggressive tactics (just like the scammers) there is concern that people won’t be able to tell who is working for the IRS and who isn’t. Here are some red flags:
- You didn’t receive a letter first. If the IRS turns your account over to a collection agency, they will notify you in writing and name the firm.
- The caller asks you to pay the collection agency. They aren’t allowed to do that. Checks should be made to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS.
- You already have a repayment plan in place with the IRS. They won’t assign you to a collection agency if you already have an installment agreement with them.
- The caller doesn’t know or care if you’re in a disaster area or deployed. The IRS won’t turn you over to private collections if you are in a presidentially declared disaster area or are deployed in a combat zone.
- The caller wants payment from someone who has died, or someone who is under 18. They may have outstanding liabilities, but the IRS won’t send their accounts to private collection agencies.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen is recommending that the IRS “require the PCAs to disclose the portions of their operational plans, calling scripts, and training materials that affect taxpayers so the National Taxpayer Advocate, Congress and the public can evaluate whether their collection tactics are reasonable.”