Delinquent taxpayers won't have to worry about private tax debt collectors calling for at least another calendar year, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Tax Analysts at the Federal Bar Association Section on Taxation annual meeting in Washington March 4.
Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee February 10 that while the IRS was unlikely to meet a March 4 deadline for finalizing contracts with private tax debt collectors, he would be able to describe for the committee the program's path forward by then.
The commissioner said March 4 that the IRS in recent weeks held a bidders conference, which four eligible companies attended. The names of those companies were not available at press time. Koskinen said he would soon be sending a letter to the Finance Committee updating the timeline for the program's progress.
"We had a very good back and forth" at the bidders' conference, Koskinen said. "It was a good discussion about framework, about what the process was going to look like, and to get some of their feedback about . . . things we should be alert to or how we could put it together in a way that would work for them."
Both the bidders and the IRS are especially sensitive about launching the private collection program when taxpayers are under assault from phone scams by identity thieves, the commissioner said. "If everyone hangs up the minute you say, 'We're from the IRS,' it's not going to help on the private debt collection," he said.
The next step will be a request for proposals from the qualified collection companies, with the goal of having contracts in place by the end of fiscal 2016, Koskinen said. The IRS also needs to train personnel for tax debt collection and set up information technology systems for the program, he said.
"It's probably going to be in the middle, toward the end of, next filing season by the time we get it all set up," Koskinen said.
The IRS commissioner earlier addressed a luncheon crowd at the Federal Bar Association conference, updating attendees on the agency's continuing budget saga, struggles with employee attrition and services, and its future state vision of electronic taxpayer accounts and increased self-service.
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