The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses private collection agencies to attempt to collect certain overdue federal tax debts. If your IRS tax debt will be transferred to a private collection agency, the IRS will send you written notice that the transfer is happening, and a second written notice confirming the transfer. These private collection agencies are given accounts that the IRS is no longer actively working on. The IRS states, “Several factors contribute to the IRS assigning these accounts to private collection agencies, including older, overdue tax accounts or lack of resources preventing the IRS from working the cases.”
Your Rights Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The collection agencies the IRS hires are third party collection agencies and are subject to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This means they cannot violate your rights and must follow the laws on debt collection.
The FDCPA protects consumers from harassment and deception from debt collectors and provides the right to bring legal action for violations and to recover actual and statutory damages and attorney fees.
You have a number of rights under the FDCPA. Here are just a few of your rights:
- The right to put an end to collection phone calls. Once you notify a collection agency in writing that you do not want to receive phone calls, they cannot legally continue to call you except under specific and limited circumstances.
- In general, debt collectors may only call between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.―local time where you are located.
- Debt collectors may contact your family or friends if they do not have contact information to reach you. In such limited circumstances, a debt collector may “for the purpose of acquiring information about the consumer” contact your friends or family.
- You have the right to be free from debt collection harassment or abuse. Debt collectors may not engage in any conduct in which the natural consequence is to harass, oppress, or abuse. Specifically, the following actions are prohibited:
- The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.
- The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader.
- The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts.
- Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number. 15 U.S.C. § 1692e.
The IRS collection agencies must follow the provisions of the FDCPA. If a private collection agency for the IRS violations your rights, you may be entitled to bring legal action against them.
Further, the private collection agencies hired by the IRS will not collect payments from taxpayers. Payments must be made to the U.S. Treasury and sent to the IRS, not the private collection agency.
Certain Older Tax Debts Can Be Erased
Certain older tax debts can be erased through bankruptcy. If you have questions about tax debts and bankruptcy in Georgia, we invite you to come meet with us for a free consultation. We proudly serve the people of Savannah, Chatham County, Effingham County, Bulloch County, Bryan County, Liberty County, and Long County.
Find out more about being debt free in our guide: All About Debt Relief
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