If you owe back taxes, the IRS has recently announced that they will begin using third-party collection agencies to call you. This announcement sparks much debate and confusion since the IRS has never been in the business of calling consumers for back taxes. In years past, scammers posed as IRS agents as a front for their schemes, costing consumers millions. In 2016, victims of these scams paid upwards of $50 million.
The IRS may consider themselves a victim as well, if you consider the fact that billions of dollars are owed in back taxes. In 2013, Time Magazine reported $600 billion that the IRS had not been able to collect. This is said to be mostly from the self-employed population of Americans who, whether accidentally or purposely, omit important information in preparing their taxes.
However, this sudden decision to change IRS policies in collecting payment for back taxes has many people more than a little concerned. Steve Bernas from the Better Business Bureau stated, “We are concerned about the third-party collection the IRS is going to be using because the scam artists are going to align themselves with it and take advantage of the situation.”
In fact, the IRS website is full of information in the way of news releases warning people, especially seniors, of scams as tax season comes to a close. However, consumers need to know that the IRS decision to begin collecting payment by using collection agencies is not a scam. There are four private collection agencies that the IRS has contracted to work with them to collect payment for back taxes.
The process could start right away, however there is an important method the IRS will use that should set them apart from scammers. The IRS will implement their process by first sending a letter. The letter will explain to the consumer that their back taxes have been turned over to a collection agency. It may also state how much is owed and give options for making payment. The phone call would be a follow-up to the letter previously sent.
This is how you will know it is a collection the IRS is conducting as opposed to a scammer just out to get your money. Scammers will typically ask you to wire the money, or use a prepaid debit card. They have also been known to use unlawful practices of threatening jail time, or deportation, if you do not pay. Collectors working with the IRS will not threaten. They will simply direct you to pay the amount owed at the IRS.gov. website.
The IRS will continue to do their part to keep consumers informed of tax scammers, and encourage the public to constantly be on guard. The public should beware, however, that they will be more assertive in attempting to collect their money from you.
What do you think of the possibility of getting a call from the IRS? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.