The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released their report titled Review of Fair Tax Collection Practice Violations During Fiscal Year 2014 on May 28, 2015. When Congress passed the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in 1977, they exempted the federal government from its requirements. (An aside, it must be nice to exempt yourself from rules others have to follow.) In 1998, Congress finally decided to apply the law to the IRS collection activities but they wrote a special version for IRS called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCP).
FDCP Act requirements (from TIGTA report):
[T]he IRS may not communicate with taxpayers in connection with the collection of any unpaid tax:
- At unusual or inconvenient times.
- If the IRS knows that the taxpayer has obtained representation from a person authorized to practice before the IRS and the IRS knows or can easily obtain the representative’s name and address.
- At the taxpayer’s place of employment, if the IRS knows or has reason to know that such communication is prohibited.
In addition, the IRS may not harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with any tax collection activity or engage in any activity that would naturally lead to harassment, oppression, or abuse. Such conduct specifically includes, but is not limited to:
- Use or threat of violence or harm.
- Use of obscene or profane language.
- Causing a telephone to ring continuously with harassing intent.
- Placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller’s identity. (end quoted text)
TIGTA reports two, yes two (2), violations in the last fiscal year. The IRS is a huge organization. Even operating as well as a great customer service driven commercial entity I find it difficult to believe there were only incidences when they broke the rules. My guess is that most taxpayers do not take the time to report the abuse or harassment as they are afraid it will lead to more of the same.
What do you think?
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