New rules in IRS debt collection

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A sign states business hours in the James A. Farley post office in Manhattan on that last day to file taxes on April 15, 2014 in New York City.

This year, the calendar is the procrastinator's friend. While the IRS offers installment plans, you must file your tax return to apply for one. If you have taxable income of $70,000 and a $4,000 tax credit, however, the credit reduces your tax dollar-for-dollar. However, if for whatever reason, you can not get them done before the deadline, you may need to file for a tax extension.

If you've run out of time or are still missing important forms, you should consider filing an extension.

Thought for the day: "If your biggest tax deduction was bail money, you might be a redneck". If you're unsure about what to include in your tax return, talk to a tax professional to avoid any penalties or fees. You can also file a Form 9465, which is their Installment Agreement Request, along with your tax return. This mailing will include a copy of Publication 4518, What You Can Expect When the IRS Assigns Your Account to a Private Collection Agency.

With a new Congress and new president supposedly committed to tax reform, the service findings are especially pertinent.

Make sure to file your tax return by April 18 or request an extension, even if you can not pay all of what you owe on time, said Marshall Hunt, certified public accountant and director of tax policy for the Accounting Aid Society's tax assistance program in metro Detroit.

"So some people may think, gee, I owe this year, I can't file". Otherwise, your bill will be inflated by failure-to-file penalties, along with underpayment fines and interest on the balance.

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These private collection agencies will be working on older accounts where the taxpayer owes money but the IRS has stopped working on the account. You may have to pay taxes for the full amount. If you don't pay the amount you've estimated, you may owe interest and penalties.

The IRS said it will always notify a taxpayer before transferring their account to a private collection agency. Review bank statements, year-end investment reports, checkbook registers, credit card statements, and the "statement of benefits" from your health insurance company to see whether there are deduction opportunities. The company says it is a leader in enrolling borrowers in income-driven repayment plans and has helped almost 250,000 students rehabilitate their loans. You must file it by paper.

So if you receive a call from someone claiming to collect an IRS debt, it could actually be real now. Don't routinely carry a Social Security card, and make sure tax records are secure.

It's easy to forget these things when you're in a hurry, but they can end up saving you some serious money and are well worth the extra time to figure out if you qualify.

Bad account numbers. If you arrange for direct deposit of your refund, triple-check account numbers. If you can figure out what that suspicious item was before the audit starts, you'll have a better chance to prepare a strong defense.

The military and the IRS also provide free tax assistance to military personnel and their families.

Meanwhile, the IRS said in its latest data book that fiscal 2016 was a "turnaround" year for it, notably in its improved telephone customer service, and close to 300 million visits to the Where's My Refund website.

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