Internal Revenue Service officials announced last week that they’d added an additional payment option for those who owe tax debt in an extension of the IRS’ controversial private debt collection program. As the name implies, this program looks to privatize certain aspects of tax collection, and it began a quiet rollout in June.
Taxpayers can now choose to make direct debit payments to a private collection agency to whom they’ve given prior written authorization. The idea here is to spread the workload of tax collection off of the vastly understaffed IRS in the hopes that doing so will make things faster and more convenient for taxpayers.
Whether that’s actually the case is still up for debate. Detractors of the program point to the fact that involving private companies in the tax collection process will simply exacerbate the already rampant issue of scammers by giving them a new, even easier avenue of attack. If taxpayers struggled to differentiate between the real IRS and someone pretending to be the IRS, how much luck will they have now that some private, non-IRS debt collection companies have been thrown into the mix?
The IRS seems to recognize this issue, calling it out specifically in the very same release announcing the expansion of the program.