Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, has sent a letter to his chamber colleagues in an attempt to blunt what he termed "inaccurate claims" about the private collectors employed by the Internal Revenue Service. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, Grassley pointed out that the IRS's own collection infrastructure is better set up for placing liens and garnishing wages than making initial phone calls to delinquent taxpayers to set up a payment plan. Grassley wrote that the private debt collection program consists of having contractors make basic phone calls to taxpayers, contrary to the images of thuggish collection agents using questionable tactics, as has been portrayed by opponents of the program. As evidence, he said that of 24,000 cases of collection just 36 inquiries have been registered. Grassley said there is roughly $90 billion in unpaid taxes that is languishing instead of being collected. His letter said that some of that money is best collected by the "tough cops" of the IRS, fully empowered to seize property, garnish wages, freeze bank accounts and sell the family home or business. However, a large percentage, typically the smaller, newer debts, is better obtained by a modern outbound calling system -- a system that the IRS currently doesn't have, nor are its employees trained for it.

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