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Tell Congress: Keep debt collectors out of tax collection

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Petition to the United States Senate:

"Block the use of private debt collectors to collect delinquent taxes, which would put Americans at risk and cost more than continuing to use Internal Revenue Service employees."

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    Tell Congress: Keep debt collectors out of tax collection

    Debt collectors routinely harass, threaten, provide misleading information, and put personal information at risk. The Republican Party wants to put them in charge of collecting taxes.1

    House Republicans slipped a provision into the highway bill which would force the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to use private debt collectors, instead of IRS employees, to collect overdue taxes.2

    The Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about debt collectors than any other industry, and yet Republicans want to give them even more power.3

    As the House and Senate negotiate to finalize a highway bill compromise, Democrats are mobilizing to strip the provision. We still have a chance to stop debt collectors from receiving taxpayer dollars to harass Americans, but only if we put pressure on the Senate right now, before a final deal is agreed upon and passed.

    Tell the Senate: Keep debt collectors out of tax collection.

    The worst tax dodgers in America are big corporations who have parked trillions of dollars offshore or used shady loopholes to avoid paying their fair share.4 But instead of cracking down, House Republicans want to sic debt collectors on struggling Americans, the majority of whom have simply fallen on hard times and can’t afford to pay their tax obligation right away.

    Conservative ideology has blinded Republicans to the simple fact that debt collectors are actually less efficient than IRS employees. Twice, the government has experimented with using private debt collection companies, and twice it has actually lost the government money. The first trial resulted in a $17 million net loss for the government. The second, conducted under President Bush, resulted in a $4.5 million loss.5

    Worse, those programs showed once more the despicable tactics used by debt collectors. In one case, a government report found that a debt collection agency made 150 phone calls to the elderly parents of a taxpayer – even though the agency knew for certain that the taxpayer did not live at that address. The companies were fired and the government had to pay out thousands in damages for violations of taxpayer rights.6

    It is bad enough when Americans struggling to repay medical, credit card, or education debt are forced into the clutches of debt collectors who harass, threaten, and provide misleading information. Giving those debt collectors access to our private tax data and lucrative government contracts is simply unacceptable.

    Tell the Senate: Keep debt collectors out of tax collection.

    With debt collectors in charge, your confidential, personal information – including Social Security number, bank accounts, retirement savings, and more – would land in the hands of private companies out to turn a profit. While the IRS is required to work with taxpayers to resolve the situation, debt collectors would have no incentive to negotiate instead of chasing you for every last dime. On top of it all: Scam artists already cost Americans millions by fraudulently claiming to represent the IRS in order to collect tax dollars. Blurring the lines between the IRS and debt collectors would make this problem far, far worse.7

    If House Republicans get their way, we would see taxpayer harassment, increased fraud, and threats to personal information – all at a greater cost to the government, and delivering poorer results. We cannot let this happen.

    Tell the Senate: Keep debt collectors out of tax collection.

    Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Ashlee Kieler, “Provision In Highway Funding Bill Would Require The IRS To Use Private Debt Collectors,” Consumerist, November 2, 2015.
    2. Peter Schroeder, “Dems push to block private debt collectors from IRS work,” The Hill, November 3, 2015.
    3. Kelly Phillips Erb, “Despite Complaints, Past Failures & Opportunities For Fraud, Congress Pushes Private Tax Collection,” Forbes, November 3, 2015.
    4. 10 Corporate Tax Dodgers You Should Know About,” BillMoyers.com, May 29, 2014.
    5. Phillips Erb, “Despite Complaints, Past Failures & Opportunities For Fraud, Congress Pushes Private Tax Collection.”
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.