Automated Collection Systems

Now, I want to talk a little about automated collections systems. Automated Collection Systems is a network of campuses that the IRS maintains that enforce collection activity. It’s the first stage of collection so to speak. Because the IRS has limited resources and because the IRS has lots of people that owe them money, they rely on certain campuses in cities like Memphis or Brook Haven, New York; or Kansas City, Missouri; Cincinnati, Utah and a variety of places to enforce collections for the IRS. If you ever want to know what ACS is all about, just picture a big room with a bunch of people that have computers. They have phones and they do the dirty work of the IRS trying to enforce collections on its behalf. ACS call centers will receive calls, anybody who gets a levy or lien will call in the IRS and say, “Hey, you took my property.” The ACS agent will try to work with them on resolving the account. ACS agents in general as well are also the people who call taxpayers and try to track them down.

The goal of the ACS agent is to gather as much information on the account as possible, investigate possible collection sources and generally work with taxpayers to try and resolve the account in a manner that is satisfactory for the service. They’re operating off of IRS protocol but you have to understand that the ACS employees are mostly leaning towards doing something in the benefit of the service. They are not looking to benefit the taxpayer. Some of they are but for the most part, ACS people are company men and they want to do the best job they can. You also have to understand about ACS employees that they get multiple, multiple phone calls a day from lots of people who are not too happy with them. It’s kind of a thankless job. I mean, if you have people calling you every day yelling at you, well you’re attorneys, you understand what that’s like. But at the same point, if you have people calling and yelling at you, you wouldn’t be too happy about your job either. ACS employees get pretty beat up during the course of the day. Because it’s kind of a thankless job, they tend to be a little more aggressive.

They can be a little surly sometimes. But they are generally good people and they’re just trying to do their job to resolve their accounts. One of the things to note about ACS as well is because they’re handling minor issues number one, these people aren’t as well-trained as some other IRS agents. So the IRS doesn’t invest the resources in them than it does with other more senior collection personnel. Many of them are seasonal particularly during January to April and September-October. So the IRS bring in temporary staff to handle the increased call volume. The other thing to note about ACS agents is they’ve got a lot of cases. They’ve got a lot of responsibilities. ACS agents generally handle about 140 cases, sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. But that’s a lot of folks to keep track of. Now, when you’re assigned to ACS, even though your case may be worked on by an individual, you are not going to get the same individual twice. Every time you call ACS, you are either routed to a different city or a different person. Very rarely do you get the same person twice. It’s kind of fun when the IRS call center routes you to the same person twice in the same day. It’s like, “Hey, I just talked to you earlier. Now, I’m calling about a different person.” In general, ACS is a big network of people. You should not hit the same person twice.


Sam Brotman, JD, LLM, MBA

Owner and Director of Legal
Brotman Law