When it seems like scammers are coming out from under every rock, it's understandable if you're suspicious of a private debt collector who suddenly calls, insisting that you owe money to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, on some occasions, the IRS does use private debt collectors for overdue tax debts. But let's briefly go over some things you should know about working with one of these companies.
Those Letters You've Received
The IRS and the debt collection agency should have sent you a letter before the agency started calling or taking any other action. The letters should notify you that the company has been hired to address your account. And in the letters, both should use the same taxpayer identification number—make sure you keep both letters for future reference. If you haven't received any letters, or that reference number is missing, use caution and confirm that this is real before moving forward.
Currently, the IRS uses the following companies:
- Coast Professional, Inc.
They're hired if the IRS hasn't been able to find you successfully, you haven't communicated with the IRS for more than a year, or it's been more than two years since the assessment.
The primary functions of these collectors are to:
- locate the debtor
- set up payment plans for the debt
- monitor the debtor's compliance with the payment plan
You must also correspond with them if you're claiming you already paid the amount.
However, there are important limits on what these private debt collectors can and cannot do.
Only Make Payments to the IRS
First and foremost, you should still pay the IRS itself, not the debt collector. The debt collector should not be asking for any financial information, nor can they charge you a fee for their services.
Debt collectors also cannot take any enforcement action against you, and they can't negotiate a settlement for a lower amount.
But the best thing to do is consult an attorney who can advise you about your rights, your tax liability, and your options going forward.
An Experienced Tax Attorney Can Help
If you need help, call Senior Partner, Tax Controversy Attorney, and former IRS attorney Brandon A. Keim at (602) 200-7399 or contact him online to discuss your options.