For years, taxpayers have been told that the IRS will never call to inquire about their taxes or collect unpaid funds. Rather, the IRS has operated under the communication policy that they will contact taxpayers by written notice only. However, immediately following this year’s tax season, in April 2017, the IRS enacted a change in their policy to begin calling individuals with overdue tax bills, but there are specifics to when or why they will contact you via phone.
Unfortunately, as many of us know, dozens and dozens of scam artists exist in today’s world, who will surely be attempting to capitalize on this new policy to con you out of your own money. With that in mind, we have assembled some information regarding the new policy to help you recognize when you’re actually being contacted by the IRS, and when you’re being scammed.
- The IRS has contracted out 4 private collection agencies: Conserve, Pioneer, Performant, and CBE Group
- These agencies will only call individuals with long overdue taxes, namely those with accounts who have not interacted with the IRS in more than 365 days. Thus, if you were a bit late on your April 2017 taxes, you didn’t receive a call in May, and won’t unless they go unpaid through April 2018.
- The IRS will still send written notices first stating your account is being turned over to a collection agency
- There are many practices or tactics used by scam artists over the phone that the IRS will never follow, even when calling though their contracted collection agencies. The IRS will NOT:
- Threaten to deport you, foreclose your property or withdraw your license
- Threaten to bring in law enforcement or other agencies to arrest you for lack of payment
- Demand payment without allowing you to inquire against or appeal the amount owed
- Request immediate payment over the phone. They will never call without sending a bill or notice via mail first
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
- Demand a certain form of payment (i.e. a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or iTunes gift card)
If you think you have been scammed, or have an issue with one of the contracted collection agencies, the IRS suggests contacting the hotline for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484, or visit tigta.gov. If you do receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and are concerned with the validity of the call in any way, do not send funds. If you have questions about owing taxes or would like to confirm that a call you received is legitimate, contact the IRS directly at 1-800-829-1040.