According to an article in Accounting Today, Congress has mandated that IRS use private debt collectors in bill passed in late 2015.
The IRS has tried this twice before and scrapped the program both times as a failure. The private debt collectors in the past did not always inform the taxpayer of options for paying the tax debt, such as payment plan or offer in compromise and there were complaints about abusive behavior on the part of the private collectors.
With the amount of fraud being perpetrated over the phone by criminals posing as IRS agents, seems like a bad time to launch such a program. Additionally, with identity theft on the rise, it seems unwise to send sensitive taxpayer data to a third party.
The program is due to launch in 2017. Taxpayers who meet the following criteria can expect a call from a private debt collector:
(a) There are no IRS employees assigned to the case.
(b) There is less than seven years left of the 10 year statute for collections.
(c) IRS has not been in contact with the taxpayer in over a year and the taxpayer has not asked for any help from IRS in getting his tax bill paid.
How the public will be able to distinguish a private tax collector from a scam artist is beyond me.