IRS Considering Reporting Tax Debt to Credit Bureaus

by Kenneth Hoffman in , ,


Congress is considering allowing the Internal Revenue Service to report on taxpayers’ tax debts to consumer credit bureaus such as Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

The Government Accountability Office provided a report Wednesday to Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa., on the factors for considering a congressional proposal to report tax debts to credit bureaus. The report noted that millions of individual and business taxpayers owe billions of dollars in unpaid federal tax debts—$373 billion as of the end of fiscal year 2011, including $258 billion in individual debt and $115 billion in business debt—and the IRS expends substantial resources trying to collect these debts.

Unlike many other debts owed to the federal government, tax debts are not directly reported to the credit bureaus that collect and sell information about the credit history of individuals and businesses. The IRS is not allowed to directly report tax debt information to credit bureaus because long-standing federal law protects the privacy of any personally identifiable information reported to or developed by the IRS. The IRS is, however, allowed to file tax liens on some tax debts. Tax liens become part of the public record, which can be picked up by credit bureaus and included in the credit history information they compile

Among the potential reasons for directly reporting tax debt information to credit bureaus are the possibility that it could increase revenue by encouraging tax debtors to pay off their debts and the possibility that it could give the users of credit bureau information a more complete picture of the indebtedness of tax debtors. A proposal could conceivably encompass all tax debts or specify types of tax debts for such reporting.

How much of this debt would be suitable to report to credit bureaus could depend on the purpose of the reporting proposal, such as to collect more debts or simply to inform other potential creditors of the existence of tax debts, the GAO noted. Most debts are relatively small in size. Well over half of individuals and businesses with tax debts owed less than $5,000.

However, much of the aggregate debt is concentrated among those owing relatively large amounts. Debts over $25,000 add up to a total of $310 billion.

However, the National Taxpayer Advocate cautioned that such reporting could cause some taxpayers to choose not to file or file inaccurately if they know they owe money to the IRS.

Now is the time to contact your congress critters to let them know how you feel.

Do you have unfiled back taxes or owe the IRS money, contact me ASAP to get this resolved.

Kenneth Hoffman counsels Entrepreneurs, Professionals and Select Individuals in taking control of their taxes, and businesses. Discover how I can help you overcome your tax and business challenges. To start the conversation or to become a client, call Kenneth Hoffman at (954) 591-8290 Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for a no cost consultation, or drop me a note.

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