The IRS is again allowing collection of some tax debt by private companies, a program that could serve as a bellwether for increased contracting out of federal work under Trump administration government reform initiatives. The program will be limited to what the agency describes as a “relatively small group of taxpayers,” under a law enacted in late 2015 calling on the IRS to use contractors to pursue tax debt not under active collection efforts by the agency itself. Such privatized collection has been attempted several times in the past but abandoned, partly because of reported abuses by collection agencies used at the time. The new program includes several changes designed to address such concerns, including notifications from the IRS itself that the debt has been referred to a collection company, and a policy that payments will be sent to the IRS, not to that company. However, the NTEU union, which represents many IRS employees, argues that the collection effort still will be open to abuse, that collection of tax debt is an inherently governmental function, and that the agency is not attempting to collect the debt itself only because it hasn’t been given sufficient funds and staff. Also, the IRS itself has sent out a warning for taxpayers to “be on the lookout for scammers posing as private collection firms” under the new authority.