US citizens who have somehow illegally managed to avoid filing or paying taxes, as well as those who are in default of payments and fines, may now be forced to go underground, as private bounty-hunters in the form of roving tax collectors will now be despatched by four companies contracted by the IRS to track them down.
If you are only a little bit behind, however, do not start packing your bags just yet, as the IRS will currently only be sending warning letters at the pace of a few hundred each week, and only to those whose bills have been overdue for years, according to local Houston, Texas, ABC affiliate KTRK.
Those numbers could grow considerably, however, as the IRS seeks to ramp up to sending thousands of warning letters on a weekly basis following a requirement by the US Congress to mandate private-sector debt collection as a means of funding road infrastructure; part of the 2015 Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, according to NBC.
Rank and file employees at the IRS are less than happy, as the move is thought likely to result in "collection agents getting paid to harass taxpayers, many of whom need assistance, not threats," according to Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
Consumer groups agree, as attorney Suzanne Martindale with the Consumers Union stated. "When you outsource the work of the government to private companies without simultaneously having a strong oversight program to make sure these firms are treating people fairly, you run into problems," she said.
In consideration of whatever preparations have to be made by those US citizens preparing to go on the run to avoid paying taxes, the IRS will, however, helpfully supply the name and contact information of the private company that will be placed on your trail.
According to a statement by agency commissioner John Koskinen, "The IRS is taking steps throughout this effort to ensure that the private collection firms work responsibly and respect taxpayer rights."
It is not known whether the fees paid to tax-collecting bounty hunters will meet or exceed the amounts owed to the government by the hapless tax-scofflaws.