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  • Writer's pictureBrian Barto

Does the IRS Use Private Collection Agencies? Or is this a Scam?

In 2017 the Internal Revenue Service implemented a private debt collection program and started to assign certain overdue federal tax debts to private collection agencies (PCA’s). If your tax debt has been transferred to a private collection agency, you will be contacted by one of these four private collection agencies on the government's behalf:

P.O. Box 2217

Waterloo, IA 50704


P.O. Box 307

Fairport, NY 14450


P.O. Box 9045

Pleasanton, CA 94566


PO Box 500

Horseheads, NY 14845


Private collection agencies will work on accounts where taxpayers owe money, but the IRS is no longer actively working them. Several factors contribute to the IRS assigning these accounts to private collection agencies, including older, overdue tax accounts or lack of resources preventing the IRS from working the cases.

The IRS will give taxpayers and their representative written notice that the accounts are being transferred to the private collection agencies. The agencies will send a second, separate letter to the taxpayer and their representative confirming this transfer.

Private collection agencies will identify themselves as contractors of the IRS collecting taxes. Employees of these collection agencies must follow provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and should be courteous and respect taxpayer rights.

The IRS will do everything it can to help taxpayers avoid confusion and understand their rights and tax responsibilities, particularly in light of continual phone scams where callers impersonate IRS agents and request immediate payment.

Taxpayers will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers on Your Tax Bill. If payment is made by check, the check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to the IRS, not the private collection agency.

Before you are contacted by a private collection agency, you will receive two letters.

  1. The IRS will first send Notice CP40 and Publication 4518. These let you know that your overdue tax account was assigned to a private collection agency.

  2. The private collection agency then sends its initial contact letter. It has information on how to resolve your overdue taxes.

Both letters contain a Taxpayer Authentication Number. It’s used to confirm your identity. It’s also for you to verify that the caller is legitimate. Keep this number in a safe place.

What to expect after you receive a Notice

You should validate that the caller is representing one of the private collection agencies listed above.

The private collection agency will ask you a series of questions to make sure they’re talking to the correct person.

You will be asked to exchange portions of the Taxpayer Authentication Number with the private collection agency to validate each other’s identity.

The private collection agency will be courteous, professional, and respect your taxpayer rights while following the laws.

The private collection agency will work with you to resolve your overdue taxes. They will NOT threaten you. If you feel the private collection agency acted inappropriately, here’s how to report it.

If you prefer to work directly with the IRS, you can request your account be transferred back to the IRS. The private collection agencies are limited in how they can help you. Essentially, the only service they can provide is assistance in setting up an Installment Agreement (payment plan). If you wish to apply for an Offer-in-Compromise or request your account be assigned as Uncollectible; we suggest you contact a good Tax Professional who specializes in Tax Resolution work.

At Tax Debt Resolution Services of Winchester VA, our mission is to help you eliminate your IRS issues and the stress the IRS has created in your life and help you get back to doing what you do best! We help our clients in Winchester VA, Strasburg VA, Martinsburg WV and Charles Town WV to resolve their tax debts! If you need assistance please feel free to contact me at 540-662-4432 or

Brian Barto

24 Weems Lane

Winchester, VA 22601


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