Owing money to the IRS is enough to make anyone nervous. The agency has a substantial amount of power to collect amounts owed.
With all of the horror stories out there regarding tax collections, you could inadvertently fall prey to an impersonator looking to steal your hard-earned money. The best way to avoid this is to arm yourself with the correct information regarding how the IRS contacts you when you owe money.
What the agency does not do
IRS agents won’t turn up at your house as a first effort to collect taxes it says you legally owe. Even though the agency does make personal appearances, it is not an opening move. Instead, the agency contacts taxpayers via mail. In fact, you will probably receive numerous pieces of mail before they show up or even call you.
Other things the IRS would not do include the following:
- Demand immediate payment
- Require you to pay via prepaid debit card, wire transfer or gift card
- Demand payment without due process
- Threaten you with arrest or deportation
- Threaten to revoke your business license, immigration status or driver’s license
If someone does any of the above, it is more than likely an impersonator trying to scam you. You do not have to give him or her any money, and you can report the individual to the IRS and law enforcement.
What the agency will do
The IRS begins its contact with taxpayers through the mail. You have certain rights that the agency must honor during its communications with you. You have the right to verify the amount the agency claims you owe. You may even file an appeal. Only under certain circumstances will the IRS make personal appearances without notification to the taxpayer.
The IRS does use private debt collection agencies in some cases but must inform you of its intention to do so. The same rules apply to these companies when it comes to collecting the amount you legally owe. Scammers will also attempt to impersonate these agencies as well.
What you can do
If you suspect someone is attempting to extort money from you by claiming to represent the IRS, do not give him or her any money. You can contact the IRS directly to verify the amount you allegedly owe and make arrangements to pay it if appropriate.
What arrangements you make often depends on your current financial situation and the amount owed. You may take advantage of your rights as a taxpayer. Moreover, you may take advantage of your right to representation in any dealings with the agency.