Authorized by a law enacted in December 2015, the program enables the designated contractors to collect unpaid tax debts on the government's behalf. This are generally individual balances that are not being addressed by IRS collection employees.
"The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a prepared statement.
A few hundred taxpayers will receive mailings, followed later by telephone calls. Thousands will be contacted later in the spring and summer. Those addressed will have had multiple contacts, letters and phone calls, first from the IRS.
The IRS will notify taxpayers their accounts are being transferred. This will be done by letters to the taxpayers and tax representative, giving them the name of the private collection agency and the contact information for that organization. They will also be sent copies of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.
After being reached by the IRS, the taxpayer will be contacted by the private firm, confirming the account transfer. That initial communication will help taxpayers identify the tax amount owed and assure taxpayers that future collection agency calls they may receive are legitimate. Private collectors must identify themselves as contractors of the IRS and must follow provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. These agencies can legally discuss payment options and set up payment agreements. However, payment can only be made to the IRS.