All taxpayers should be aware that the IRS has implemented a new program that allows private debt collection agencies to call to collect past-due taxes. This may be confusing to many taxpayers since there have been a bevy of warnings circulating that warn of scams where a fraudster calls identifying themselves as a representative of the IRS.
In the past, it was easy to distinguish between scammers and the IRS because we've heard numerous times that the IRS doesn't call you. The IRS certainly wouldn't stalk, harass or leave threatening voicemails.
Now it seems that private debt collectors will be legally making those calls, and it appears that there is no program designed to protect taxpayers from scammers or to differentiate the real collectors from the fake.
Congress passed a law in 2015 requiring the IRS to restart the program (which ceased in 2009). The program will be implemented when the IRS no longer has sufficient resources to pursue specific collections. The new program could affect any taxpayer, as scammers will not differentiate between those who owe taxes vs. those who don't. Keep in mind that if you were to receive a collections call, it would likely not happen until later this year.
HOW DO I TELL IF IT'S A SCAM
From the IRS: The IRS will give taxpayers and their representative written notice that the accounts are being transferred to the private collection agencies. The agencies will send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer.
Additionally, there are only four firms that are authorized by the IRS: CBE Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Conserve of Fairport, New York, Performant of Livermore, California, and Pioneer of Horseheads, New York.
We also recommend checking with your tax advisor regarding any phone calls soliciting personal information related to your taxes. If you don't have reason to believe you owe any taxes, there's a good chance it's a scammer.
For more information, please contact your local UHY LLP Professional.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | 7:30 AM – 9:30 AM EDT | The Hartford Club