As published in the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, Thursday Jan. 3, 2012 Edition Offers... Read More »
How to Deal with IRS Collection Agents
Once an assessment is made against you, your case gets sent to the IRS Collection Division.
There are two types of collection agents taxpayers encounter in the IRS collection process:
- Automated Collection Distributors; and
- Local Revenue Agents.
The Automated Collection System
The Automated Collection System was developed in the early 1980′s to allow the IRS to contact taxpayers by telephone and collect delinquent taxes.
ACS handles balance due and non-filer cases that require telephone contact for resolution.
ACS uses Automated Call Distributors (ACD’s) to handle the scheduling and follow-ups of incoming and outgoing calls, and issue tax levies and IRS correspondence.
When taxpayers receive IRS notices requesting the filing of a delinquent tax return or the payment of a back tax debt, it usually comes from ACS.
The first contact most delinquent taxpayers have with the IRS is with a ACS agent.
This can be a very frustrating experience for several reasons:
- The IRS telephone lines are usually jammed up so it’s not unusual for a taxpayer to wait upwards of 45 minutes just waiting to speak to someone about his or her case.
- We have found that most ACS officials are not fully knowledgeable of the Taxpayers’ Bills of Rights.
- You get a different ACS agent every time you call or correspond with the IRS. This often results in being asked duplicative questions and being forced to provide personal information several times.
- ACS agents handle numerous telephone calls a day and tend to treat taxpayers like numbers rather than people. We have experienced many cases where ACS agents berated or threatened taxpayers over the telephone, sometimes even in cases where the taxpayer had called to arrange payment of his outstanding tax debt.
- ACS agents do not know the substantive tax laws as well as local office Revenue Agents do.
Tax Professionals Hotline
Because of the backlogs in telephone communications, ACS has set up a special hotline for lawyers, CPAs and IRS enrolled agents to use to expedite the tax resolution process.
Only tax representatives are permitted to use this special telephone number.
It has been our experience that tax resolution cases initiated through the use of the hotline get resolved more quickly and with less acrimony than are the cases initiated through the main ACS telephone number.
Local Revenue Agents
In large and complex cases, ACS will transfer the matter to a local Revenue Agent.
We have found that the chances of getting a matter resolved amicably and in a manner that is both in the government’s and the taxpayer’s best interests are greater when a local Revenue Agent is working the case rather than an ACS agent.
For the last 20 years we have worked with more than one hundred different Revenue Agents in Orlando, Tampa and various other Florida-based IRS branch offices.
We know many of these agents very well and have dealt with them and their group managers on a variety of complex cases, from the basic individual non-filer case to complex payroll tax and trust fund penalty cases involving multiple, related entities.
Pappas & Associates prides itself on knowing how the IRS works and how to navigate its vast bureaucracy to ensure that we get the best possible results for our taxpayer clients.
Never Deal with an IRS Collection Agent Alone
We admit we have a economic interest in telling taxpayers not to handle their tax matters by themselves.
But the fact that we might benefit from this advice does not make it any less sound.
The simple truth is that the vast majority of taxpayers don’t possess the knowledge of the tax laws and the experience in dealing with a vast and powerful government bureaucracy necessary to competently represent themselves.
If you owe less than $10,000 to the IRS it might (for cost-benefit reasons) not make sense for you to hire a tax lawyer or CPA.
But if you owe more than that, we recommend that you at least have a consultation with an experienced tax professional before you make a mistake that could cost you money or, even worse, your freedom.