When a struggling Florida consumer checks the mailbox, there is rarely good news inside. Once financial hardship has set in, the mail becomes a daily source of stress, the box crammed with demands for payment, new bills and other evidence of a mounting debt scenario. For some individuals in serious need of debt relief, the final straw comes in the form of a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS sends notices out in an effort to collect unpaid tax debts. In some cases, the mailing notifies the taxpayer of the existence of a tax lien. While receiving such a letter may be extremely unsettling, consumers should be aware that not all such notices originate from the IRS.

In many cases, debt settlement companies will structure their solicitations to closely resemble legitimate mail from the IRS. Somewhere within the mailing consumers will find mention of the debt settlement company. These companies often search public records to determine which individuals to target, and often use people’s fear of the IRS to convince them to agree to a payment plan processed through the tax debt settlement company. In the worst cases, the mailings are nothing more than scams aimed at stealing money from consumers who are already suffering financial hardship.

For Florida residents who are facing serious financial strain, it is important to understand that there are debt relief options available. For example, while filing for personal bankruptcy will not absolve responsibility for tax debts, it can lead to the elimination of many forms of unsecured debt. This often gives borrowers the financial breathing room necessary to begin repaying their legitimate tax obligation.

Source: The Morning Call, “Don’t panic if you receive a tax debt notice,” Paul Muschick, June 1, 2013