Automated Collection System (ACS)
If your tax debt doesn’t get paid within about four months after you file a return or receive a tax assessment, the IRS will assign the account to the Automated Collection System (ACS) or a revenue officer. Then, eventually, inactive accounts go to third-party collection agencies.
Initially, the majority of delinquent tax bills go to the IRS ACS, while revenue officers only handle a small portion of tax bills. Wondering what to expect if your account is in the IRS Automated Collection System? Then, keep reading for an overview. Or get help now by contacting us at the W Tax Group today.
What Is the IRS’s Automated Collection System?
The ACS is a computerized system that sends taxpayers demands for payments and notices of federal tax liens and levies. There are also ACS employees in call centers in multiple cities around the country who answer taxpayers’ phone calls.
When your account is assigned to the ACS, there is no single individual working on your case. Instead, when you call, you’ll end up talking with a random employee. Then, the next time you call, you’ll talk to a different person.
What to Expect If the IRS Assigns Your Account to the ACS
If the IRS sends your account to the ACS, you will receive several automatically generated notices. The notices typically outline steps you can take to resolve your taxes owed, and they tell you what will happen if you don’t pay your tax liability.
Generally, the ACS doesn’t contact taxpayers over the phone. But you can call the IRS’s large call center to talk with a representative. If you don’t end up playing phone tag, you will get to talk with a representative directly.
Unfortunately, the IRS staffs the ACS with relatively inexperienced employees. They often don’t have extensive education or experience with tax law, and they have limited authority to accept certain resolution options. Keep this in mind when you call the ACS.
When you call the ACS, the employee will likely ask you questions about your financial situation to try and identify ways for you to resolve your back taxes. Generally, they’ll ask about your bank account, employer, or phone number. It is a felony to lie to the IRS, but that doesn’t mean that you should tell the employee everything. You have the right to representation when dealing with the IRS.
If you’re uncomfortable with the questions being asked or you feel like the representative is using their authority improperly, you may want to end the call and hire a tax professional. They can represent you in front of the IRS and that includes calling an ACS representative to talk about resolution options.
Enforced IRS ACS Collections
The ACS doesn’t just issue notices and answer phone calls. The Automated Collection System can also initiate several enforced collection actions. In particular, the IRS ACS can issue tax liens or tax levies.
Typically, a tax lien doesn’t get issued until you owe at least $10,000. You will receive a letter within 5 days of the lien being issued. You will also receive a notice if the IRS intends to seize your tax refund to cover your tax debt, but by law, the IRS doesn’t have to notify you about refund levies in advance.
The ACS must send you a notice at least 30 days before levying your wages, bank accounts, or assets. Once you receive the levy notice, you have 30 days to contact the IRS and make arrangements to pay your tax debt. Otherwise, the tax levy will go forward.
The ACS most commonly levies wages and bank accounts. That’s because the IRS generally already has this information so it’s relatively easy to issue the levy without talking with you. The IRS has a lot of bank account information from when people pay their tax bills with their bank accounts or have their tax refunds deposited into them. The ACS knows your employer because it’s on the W2 that your employer sends to the IRS.
IRS ACS Vs. Revenue Officer
When your account is in the Automated Collection System, you receive computer-generated notices, and if you call the IRS, your call can be routed to any ACS representative. In contrast, if the IRS assigns a revenue officer to your account, that individual is personally responsible for collecting your tax debt. When you call, the IRS will route the call to that person.
The IRS revenue officer assigned to your case will look at your situation in depth. They will either try to work with you to resolve the tax issue, or they will explore enforced collection actions such as issuing tax liens, garnishing your wages, or seizing your assets.
Generally, the IRS assigns higher value or complex tax cases to revenue officers. Low balance or straightforward cases tend to stay in the automated system. But there are always exceptions to this rule.
How to Contact the IRS ACS
The best way to contact the ACS is using the contact information printed on the notice you received from the ACS. If you don’t currently have a notice, you can call the IRS’s main phone number at 1-800-829-1040.
To write to the IRS ACS, you should also use the address printed on the notice. The ACS has several different addresses. Here are just a few IRS ACS correspondence addresses:
ACS SUPPORT – STOP 5050
PO BOX 219236
KANSAS CITY, MO 64121–9236
ACS SUPPORT – STOP 813G
PO BOX 145566
CINCINNATI, OH 45250-5566
Internal Revenue Service
PO Box 8208
Philadelphia, PA 19101-8208
The address you should use varies based on where you live and what’s happening with your tax account. Don’t just send correspondence to a random address or it may get lost. Instead, contact a tax attorney or call the IRS directly to see where to mail correspondence to the ACS.
Complaints About the IRS ACS
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has identified several issues with IRS ACS collections. The advocates report that the ACS only collected 7% of the $47 billion in taxes in the system in 2018, but the lack of collection success was not the problem. Rather, the Taxpayer Advocates noted that the ACS relies too heavily on mailed notices, and the notices are too focused on self-resolution and enforcement actions.
In particular, the Taxpayer Advocates outlines the following problems with the Automated Collection System:
- The ACS doesn’t send out enough notices because it doesn’t want its employees to provide poor service if the phone lines are clogged.
- The ACS is relying too heavily on self-service tax resolution options, instead of having IRS employees help taxpayers find resolution methods.
- ACS employees push delinquent taxpayers into streamlined installment agreements instead of helping them find the best resolution options. As a result, 22% of streamlined agreements went into default in 2018, and for taxpayers under 250% of the poverty line, the default rate was 42%.
- Taxpayers struggle to get hardship exceptions because the ACS representatives don’t understand the different costs of living in different areas.
- ACS employees don’t observe the ruling of Vinatieri v. Commissioner which says that the IRS shouldn’t sustain a proposed levy if a taxpayer is experiencing economic hardship.
- The ACS may be handling cases that should be assigned to Revenue Officers.
That said, when your account is assigned to the ACS, it’s often easier to fly under the radar. By extension, you don’t necessarily want to call the IRS and ask to have your case transferred to a revenue officer. However, if you’re looking for the best tax resolution option for your situation, you shouldn’t rely on the ACS. Instead, you should consider obtaining professional representation from a tax attorney.
Remember that ACS employees and revenue officers work for the IRS. Their obligation is to the IRS, and their focus is on collecting the tax bill. But when you hire a tax pro, they work for you. You are their top priority, and they can help you find the best tax relief option for your situation.
Notices From the IRS Automated Collection System
The IRS ACS sends out many different notices. Here are some of the notices you may receive from the ACS:
- CP80 — unfiled tax return
- CP59 — unfiled tax return
- CP14 — notice of balance due, no math
- CP16 — 2nd notice for unfiled tax returns.
- CP516 and CP616 — Final notice of tax return delinquency
- CP501 — 1st notice of balance due
- CP503 — 2nd notice of balance due
- CP504 — 3rd notice of balance due and notice of intent to levy
- 2802C — withholding compliance letter
- CP259 — delinquent business return
- CP518 and CP618 — final notice of delinquent business return
- LT11 — notice of intent to levy
- LT16 — request for taxpayer to contact the ACS.
As of 2022, the IRS has suspended sending out many of the above notices, but you may receive these notices once the agency resumes sending them out. There are several other notices that you may receive from the IRS ACS as well.
Get Help With Your Back Taxes
Are you looking for the best way to resolve your back taxes? Then, you should reach out to our tax attorneys today. We can help you find the best resolution options for your situation. To learn more, contact us at the W Tax Group.