Volume 8 Issue 4
IRS Collection Activities:
Automated Collection Service
© by Tax & Business Professionals
If a client brings an ACS IRS levy or wage garnishment to your
office and you agree to represent that client, you should be aware of the system. While
there is much that can be done, doing it is not easy or pleasant.
In view of the IRS sweeping powers, it is important that
professional fees be obtained in advance, because IRS levies are unpredictable and a
promise to pay may be worth nothing.
If you, or your client, gets a notice from an ACS office, you
will be asked to call (not write) an "800" number.
While an IRS letter or notice may indicate that it originated
at an IRS Service Center (e.g., Philadelphia or Ogden), often the "800" number
reflected on the correspondence could be for a different, and often distant, location.
When you call an ACS "800" number, you, or your
client, will first be asked for a social security or employer (EIN) number. Such numbers
determine, arbitrarily, to which ACS Team you will be assigned. An ACS employee will
answer and usually identify herself or himself by last name only.
At this point, it is a good idea to ask the ACS employee for
their "Employee Identification Number." Why?
There may be many Browns and Smiths at a large ACS facility. If
something goes wrong or you later need to identify the employee you spoke with, it may be
difficult to do so without being able to identify the exact employee.
Some ACS staff may refuse to give their employee I.D. number,
but most will readily supply it.
Another reason for asking for the IRS employee I.D. number is
to avoid or limit the "Power of Attorney ruse." You cannot represent a party
before the IRS without filing an IRS Power of Attorney (Form 2848) in advance. Sometimes,
taxpayer representatives will be told that "there is no Power of Attorney on
file," when in fact one has been filed and the ACS employee simply cannot find it
(suggest they look at "screen four") or they are too busy and want to get you
off the phone.
Without an employee I.D., complaints about such
"false alarms" cannot be reviewed. As you may have guessed, asking for an I.D.
number reduces the frequency of the comment that "no power" has been filed.
Because of their role and function, first-line ACS staffers
(the first person you get on the phone, often after an interminable wait) are extremely
limited in their exercise of discretion. For example, the Jacksonville ACS office refuses
to allow delinquent Form 941 (withholding) taxes to be paid over more than a six-month
period even if the six monthly payments would be considerably beyond the ability of the
taxpayer to pay and remain in business.
Can you demand to speak to an ACS supervisor? Yes, but often
not on the same day. They promise to, and usually do, get back to representatives within
Do not expect the ACS supervisor to accede to your demands just
because you are a professional. Often the ACS supervisors are forced to operate within
fairly narrow limits, also.
Do ACS offices have different policies? Yes, and this creates
problems because cases are transferred from area to area without consistent treatment.
Just recently, many Baltimore ACS cases were transferred to Jacksonville ACS where
policies are different.
Because ACS staff members are considerably circumscribed in
authority, they attempt to move through cases with dispatch. They usually ask for all the
financial information "on the phone" and do not want written Form 433-As
and Bs (Individual and Business Financial Statements) filed, or any other documents.
An installment payment agreement, if negotiated on the phone
with ACS, will not be documented by a written IRS Form 433-D, called an "Installment
Payment Agreement" or any document signed by the IRS.
If something goes wrong, and you have to call ACS back, you
WILL NOT get the person you talked to before. You may ask, but you WILL NOT be referred to
such prior ACS employee even if you demand to speak to that person to discuss, for
example, a misunderstanding as to the terms or amounts of payment.
In short, there is NO continuity of communications at ACS,
apart from what is entered into the "computer." If the computer entries (which
you cannot review) are wrong or non-existent, tough luck. If, for some reason, you do not
complete the first ACS conversation (lack of time or the like), then you have to begin
over, at "square one" with a different ACS person when you call back.
While ACS may take the "cream off the top," it leaves
many disgruntled representatives "on the bottom" wondering how to effectively
deal with that office. What can you do? You can ask that your case be transferred to a
field office. Sometimes, based on the size and complexity of the case, the matter may be
transferred to an IRS District Office.
Next time: Other
Effective Collection Strategies.
Previous Article | Next Article
List of Articles by Tax & Business Professionals
Published jointly by The Tax & Business Professionals, Inc. and the law firm of Newland & Associates as a service to their clients.
If you are a tax professional and would like more information about the subjects covered in this newsletter or any other tax and business matter, please call the Tax & Business Professionals, Inc. at (800)-553-6613, e-mail us at
, or visit our web site at http://www.tax-business.com.
For a full range of business law and tax-related services, call the law firm of Newland & Associates at (703) 330-0000.
If you are reading this newsletter but are not on our mailing list, and would like to be, please contact us at (800) 553-6613.
While designed to be accurate, this publication is not intended to constitute the rendering of legal, accounting, or other professional services or to serve as a substitute for such services.
Redistribution or other commercial use of the material contained in Tax & Business Insights is expressly prohibited without the written permission of Tax and Business Professionals, Inc.
You can search for information in the entire Authors Row section,
or in the entire site. For a more focused search, put your search word(s) in quotes.
Tax & Business Professionals Main | Authors Row Main | Home