Private tax collection Feed

I don't remember checking that "opt in" box

The IRS has decided it's time to make a few extra bucks using our personal data. The tax agency has announced that tax year 2002 and 2004 filing statistics, sorted by Zip Codes, are now for sale. You can pay $25 for a single state or $500 for info on taxpayers across the entire country. You'll be able to see, among other things, how many total returns, by income range, were filed where you live, how much in taxes was collected from you and your neighbors, how much was from self-employment income reported on Schedule C, how many of your... Read more →

Time your tax evasion

If you've stiffed the IRS, you picked a good year to do so. An election year, in fact, might give you a bit of cover. That seems to be the message from the IRS. A story in today's New York Times says that earlier this month, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson (at right) ordered his agency to postpone collection of back taxes from Hurricane Katrina victims until after the Nov. 7 elections and the holiday season. The reason: To avoid negative publicity. Good luck with that, Mr. E. Everson told Times' reporter David Cay Johnson that putting off collections until after... Read more →

Tax thoughts from the Devil's Advocate

Officially, the tax thoughts come from the Internal Revenue Service's Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson. But in that role, as champion of individual filers like you and me, Olson regularly goes toe-to-toe with the federal agency that bedevils most of us at some point. In a recent interview with the Tax Foundation, Olson offered her opinions, which in some cases are quite different from the official IRS position, on the complexity of the tax code, the tax gap and the agency's hiring of private firms to collect delinquent taxes. It's that last issue that caught my eye, since I just posted... Read more →

Private tax collectors paying off ... so far

Despite critics (including me), private debt collectors have been out there trying to bring in unpaid IRS bills for about six weeks. So far, it seems to be going smoothly. There's been no big outcry about abusive collection practices connected to tax bills. And apparently the private collectors are having some success. At a Senate hearing last month (more on this later), IRS Commissioner Mark Everson told lawmakers that during the first three weeks of the private collection effort, the program had brought in around $500,000 from 250 different taxpayers. "These are cases the IRS would not be working," Everson... Read more →

Stop it, stop it right now!

That's the order from a group of U.S. Senators to the IRS regarding the agency's use of private debt collectors to bring in unpaid tax money. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) yesterday introduced S. 3887, which, if it becomes law, would halt the privatization effort. Such a reaction is not a big surprise. This bill was a definite possibility that I mentioned last week when this questionable collection process began. Many lawmakers agree with tax experts and consumer advocates that this is not a good idea, for several reasons: An earlier attempt in the 1990s failed.... Read more →

Private tax-debt collectors clock in today

The big tax collection experiment has begun. The IRS has turned over the accounts of 12,500 delinquent taxpayers to three private bill collectors and today they officially start tracking down those folks. By the end of the year, the agency hopes to hand over another batch of names, bringing the total to 40,000 unpaid accounts that will be in the hands of the private sector instead of being followed up on by IRS employees. As I've mentioned many times before here in the blog, I'm not alone in thinking this is not the best idea the IRS has ever come... Read more →

Ready, set, collect

Despite concerns expressed by consumer groups and some in Congress, the IRS is about to unleash private debt collectors on delinquent taxpayers. According to various news reports, the National Treasury Employees Union says its workers have received emails confirming that the controversial program will begin at the end of August. "Congress gave us this tool, and I'm going to do everything I can to get every nickel that's owed to the government," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said. But some in Congress want to take that tool away (as mentioned in this previous blog item). The House approved the IRS' 2007... Read more →

Tax debt collectors are down and out

The U.S. House of Representatives decided to give the IRS a little more money, but lawmakers also put limits on how the tax agency could spend the funds. Specifically, the appropriations bill prohibits the IRS from hiring any more private debt collectors. The restriction would not alter the debt collection contracts the IRS announced in March (details here). Those have been on hold pending an investigation of an allegedly improper contracting process (details here). When the matter is resolved, if it is resolved in favor of the three companies the IRS picked to track down unpaid tax bills, those firms... Read more →

Debt collection defenses

An Austin law firm looking to track tax deadbeats for government agencies has been smacked down a second time, this time in its own backyard. Travis County executives this week tabled a proposal by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson to collect delinquent tax bills from county residents even after a representative of the firm essentially offered a money-back guarantee on the service. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Linebarger spokesman Ken Oden said his firm would forfeit "every nickel we make" if it couldn't collect as well as the county has. Ah, yes. Money. That's the driving force behind outsourcing the... Read more →

Roadblock for private tax debt collectors

The IRS has issued a stop-work order to three private debt-collection firms that were awarded contracts earlier this month to start going after unpaid tax bills. You can go here to read more about the contracts and why many, including yours truly, thinks such outsourcing is not such a good idea. CCH, the publishing and tax software company, reports that the IRS put the brakes on the controversial collection plan after GC Services LP and Diversified Collection Services, Inc., filed protests with the Government Accountability Office, which handles contracting disputes involving any federal agency. The complaining companies were among the... Read more →

IRS and debt collectors, a partnership made in …

Do you want your friends, neighbors and family to know you're a tax deadbeat? Some fear that such disclosures could soon happen, now that three private firms have been awarded federal contracts to collect tax debts. Yes, the IRS has joined the outsourcing ranks. The debt collector deals were announced Thursday afternoon. The new IRS contractors are the CBE Group Inc. of Waterloo, Iowa; Pioneer Credit Recovery, Inc. of Arcade, N.Y.; and, from right here in Austin, the heart of Texas, my new hometown, comes Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. In making the announcement, IRS Commissioner Mark Everson specifically... Read more →