With the calendar turning to April, the federal income tax filing deadline is just over two weeks away. But for those businesses and individuals fretting over the inability to pay their tax bills, there may be a larger problem looming. Private debt collectors now stand ready to recover billions of dollars reportedly owed to the government.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) requires the IRS to use private collectors to track down the following forms of tax debt:
– Debts that are not part of IRS’ current inventory due to lack of resources or the inability to find the taxpayer;
– No IRS agent is currently assigned to the matter;
– More than one-third of the applicable collection period on the debt has passed; and
– More than 365 days have passed without contact with the taxpayer for purposes of collecting the debt.
Now let’s face it, taxpayers are likely to be skeptical of unscrupulous debt collectors posing as collection agents on behalf of the IRS; especially given the telephonic scams identified this spring. However, any private debt collector appointed by the IRS must adhere to the rules imposed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. So if there are inappropriate statements or threats made in the name of collecting tax debt, an affected consumer may exercise their legal rights.
In the same vein, consumers contacted by these collectors may exercise the same rights available to them under the U.S. Tax Code. If you are contacted by a private debt collector regarding a past due tax debt, an experienced tax attorney can help.