It makes sense that anyone to whom you might owe money would be legally entitled to take some steps to recover that money. It also makes sense to most people that there are some limitations on what entities can do to recover money owed to them. Businesses, the government and other entities do not enjoy free reign to do whatever they want to recover moneys owed.
But how do you protect your rights against powerful government entities like the IRS, Franchise Tax Boards (FTBs) and corporate entities? If you suspect your rights are being violated in the collection of debts, what recourse do you have?
It is critical to work with an experienced tax attorney if you are concerned about the possibility of collections harassment. But it is also important to gain a basic understanding of how the laws work in these areas.
It is important to recognize that different laws govern debt collection, depending on what type of entity is involved.
Protection against private collections agents
For example, the primary legal instrument established to protect debtors is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). This law provides protection against private collections agencies, limiting how they can contact debtors, how often they contact debtors, and other aspects of collections.
However, the FDCPA only protects debtors against private entities; it does not provide the same protection from collections practices against governmental entities.
Protection against government entities
Protection regarding tax collections come from two main sources: The Fair Tax Collection Practices Act (FTCPA) and the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TBR). Although many of the protections are the same as they are in the FDTCP, the rules and procedures are slightly different, and there are different procedures for protecting your rights in court.
When it comes to protection from the IRS’s collection efforts, as laid out in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, there are some basic rights that are worth highlighting:
- The right to pay no more than the correct amount: You cannot be forced to pay more than what you legally owe for taxes.
- The right to challenge: This right goes is a logical derivative of the first right listed above. If the IRS is charging you more than what you truly owe for taxes, you have the right to dispute the charges and appeal the decision. There are distinct procedures for these challenges.
- The right to privacy and confidentiality: These rights are critical, as they go to protecting you from collections harassment. The IRS’s collections people can’t call you all hours of the night or stalk your home. They can’t publish your information publicly or harass your friends and family as a way of gaining access to you.
These are just a few of the critical rights you hold as a citizen. They are pretty general and high level, and are thus reflective of your rights against Franchise Tax Boards and private collections agencies, generally. However, every case is unique, and how you should proceed is determined in large part by the fact patterns of your case.
If you have been harassed either by a private collections agent or by the IRS in its effort to collect taxes, talk with an experienced tax lawyer discuss how you can protect your rights.