IRS extends call service hours for taxpayers in need of assistance

Tammy Harvey
April 8, 2017

Private collection agencies will be able to identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes.

For-profit debt collectors have been hired by the IRS to chase down long-overdue taxes that the government agency lacks the resources to work on. Eligible current students can also access the American Opportunity Credit, which can cover up to $2,500 annually for four years, and the Lifetime Learning Credit, which can cover up to $2,000 per tax return.

The outsourcing is due to a law passed by Congress in 2015 - not a decision by the IRS.

The IRS says that payment should never be sent to a private agency or anyone; instead, they should only be made directly to the IRS or the U.S. Treasury. They should also be courteous and respectful of taxpayer rights. "The IRS has an Online Payment Agreement tool on its website, where you can make arrangements to pay your taxes over time". Additional expenses that you pay at closing - including prepaid interest or points - may be tax-deductible, if they're not already included on your Form 1098 that reports home mortgage interest, said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a TurboTax tax expert. The agencies will send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer. It gets even more complicated if you collect donations on behalf of someone else.

One difference with the IRS' new private-collection effort is that delinquent Arizonans can make their payments either to the collection firm or to the Department of Revenue.

If the caller threatens you, demands that you pay now, or asks you to send money via wire or giftcard, they are not working with the IRS.

But if you sell items regularly - auctioning off 200 items and earning more than $20,000 in sales each year - your income is taxable. Use links to income tax forms and instructions or find answers to common questions about preparing your tax return, tax credits and much more.

Factors more under your control that can keep your audit odds low include being neat and legible when filling out your return, reporting all income on it (including all dividends and interest that's reported on 1099 forms), and not having math errors on it that will draw the attention of the IRS. Rushing through your taxes can make you skip over important changes from your previous year's return and as a result, miss out on potential deductions. These employees must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and like IRS employees, must be courteous and respect taxpayers' rights. Affected taxpayers will only be assigned to one of them. "We will be watching closely for any such schemes as the private collection program gets underway".

In some cases, the IRS will accept less than what you owe.

Several hundred taxpayers will start receiving mailed letters and phone calls this week. The company says it is a leader in enrolling borrowers in income-driven repayment plans and has helped almost 250,000 students rehabilitate their loans. If you're late in paying, interest will be charged from the due date of the original return. They told unsuspecting victims that they had failed to pay taxes or were at risk of deportation, and that a fast payment was needed to get out of trouble. Alternatively, file one with the IRS.

"IRS scams are in full swing", said Capt. Steven Jones, public information officer for the Thomas County, Georgia, Sheriff's Office. Before granting this, the IRS will assess your ability to pay. "We have many programs created to help people who are having trouble meeting their tax obligations".

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