Bet Tzedek joins the National Consumer Law Center and a coalition of consumer justice organizations around the country to oppose Section 52106 of the Highway Trust Fund bill, which would require the U.S. Treasury to use private debt collectors to collect taxes from taxpayers.
Bet Tzedek opposes this policy because it would expose taxpayers to abusive collection practices that are common among private debt collectors. Every year, the Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about debt collectors than any other specific industry, with over 200,000 complaints being filed in 2013. These companies are consistently reported for aggressive and abusive collection tactics, as well as for failing to inform debtors about their rights. These aggressive collection tactics are particularly dangerous for Bet Tzedek clients, who are not only low-income, but often struggle with additional vulnerabilities such as being undocumented, elderly, or suffering from mental health or intellectual disorders. Bet Tzedek stands against outsourcing tax debt collection on behalf of our clients, who will be unable to protect themselves against the abuses that will undoubtedly occur if private debt collectors pursue tax debt.
In addition to the abuses, outsourcing tax collection has repeatedly been shown to be a waste of taxpayer dollars. The most recent attempt resulted in a net loss to the federal government of $4.5 million, while private collectors earned $16 million in commissions in the process.
Please join Bet Tzedek to oppose a wasteful and ineffective policy that would unleash an abusive industry on the most vulnerable members of our population.