20 CFR § 422.848 - Suspension and termination of collection activities.

§ 422.848 Suspension and termination of collection activities.

(a) Scope and application—(1) Scope. The standards set forth in this subpart apply to the suspension or termination of collection activity pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3711 on debts that do not appear to be fraudulent or that do not exceed $100,000, or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative costs, after deducting the amount of partial payments or collections, if any. Prior to referring a debt to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for litigation, we may suspend or terminate collection under this subpart with respect to such debts that arise out of the activities of, or are referred or transferred for collection services to, the agency.

(2) Application.

(i) If the debt stems from a claim that appears to be fraudulent, false, or misrepresented by a party with an interest in the claim or after deducting the amount of partial payments or collections, the principal amount of the debt exceeds $100,000, or such other amount as the Attorney General may direct, exclusive of interest, penalties, and administrative costs, the authority to suspend or terminate rests solely with the DOJ.

(ii) If we believe that suspension or termination of any debt that relates to a claim that appears to be fraudulent, false, or misrepresented by a party with an interest in the claim or that exceeds $100,000 may be appropriate, we will use the Claims Collection Litigation Report to refer the debt to the Civil Division or other appropriate litigating division in the DOJ. The referral will specify the reasons for our recommendation. If, prior to referral to the DOJ, we determine that a debt is plainly erroneous or clearly without merit, we may terminate collection activity regardless of the suspected fraud or amount involved without obtaining the DOJ's concurrence.

(b) Suspension of collection activity.

(1) We may suspend collection activity on a debt when:

(i) The debtor cannot be located;

(ii) The debtor's financial condition is not expected to improve; or

(iii) The debtor has requested a legally permissible waiver or review of the debt.

(2) Financial condition. Based on the current financial condition of a debtor, we may suspend collection activity on a debt when the debtor's future prospects justify retention of the debt for periodic review and collection activity, and:

(i) No applicable statute of limitations has expired; or

(ii) Future collection can be effected by Administrative Offset, notwithstanding the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations for litigation of claims, with due regard to any statute of limitation for Administrative Offset prescribed by 31 U.S.C. 3716(e)(1); or

(iii) The debtor agrees to pay interest on the amount of the debt on which collection will be suspended and suspension is likely to enhance the debtor's ability to pay the full amount of the principal of the debt with interest at a later date.

(3) Waiver or review.

(i) We will suspend collection activity during the time required for consideration of the debtor's request for waiver or administrative review of the debt if the statute under which the request is sought prohibits us from collecting the debt during that time.

(ii) If the statute under which the waiver or administrative review request is sought does not prohibit collection activity pending consideration of the request, we may use discretion, on a case-by-case basis, to suspend collection. We will ordinarily suspend collection action upon a request for waiver or review if we are prohibited by statute or regulation from issuing a refund of amounts collected prior to agency consideration of the debtor's request. However, we will not suspend collection when we determine that the request for waiver or review is frivolous or was made primarily to delay collection.

(4) Bankruptcy. Upon learning that a bankruptcy petition has been filed with respect to a debtor, we must suspend collection activity on the debt, pursuant to the provisions of 11 U.S.C. 362, 1201, and 1301, unless we can clearly establish that the automatic stay has been lifted or is no longer in effect. In such cases, we will consult our Office of the General Counsel for advice. When appropriate, the Office of the General Counsel will take the necessary legal steps to ensure that no funds or money are paid by the agency to the debtor until relief from the automatic stay is obtained.

(c) Termination of collection activity.

(1) We may terminate collection activity when:

(i) We are unable to collect any substantial amount through our own efforts or through the efforts of others;

(ii) We are unable to locate the debtor;

(iii) Costs of collection are anticipated to exceed the amount recoverable;

(iv) The debt is legally without merit or enforcement of the debt is barred by any applicable statute of limitations;

(v) The debt cannot be substantiated; or

(vi) The debt against the debtor has been discharged in bankruptcy.


(i) Collection activity will not be terminated before we have pursued all appropriate means of collection and determined, based upon the results of the collection activity, that the debt is uncollectible.

(ii) Termination of collection activity ceases active collection of the debt. The termination of collection activity does not preclude us from retaining a record of the account for purposes of:

(A) Selling the debt, if the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) determines that such sale is in the best interest of the United States;

(B) Pursuing collection at a subsequent date in the event there is a change in the debtor's status or a new collection tool becomes available;

(C) Offsetting against future income or assets not available at the time of termination of collection activity; or

(D) Screening future applicants for prior indebtedness.

(3) We will terminate collection activity on a debt that has been discharged in bankruptcy, regardless of the amount. We may continue collection activity, however, subject to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code, for any payments provided under a plan of reorganization. Offset and recoupment rights may survive the discharge of the debtor in bankruptcy and, under some circumstances, claims also may survive the discharge. For example, when we are a known creditor of a debtor, the claims of the agency may survive a discharge if we did not receive notice of the bankruptcy proceeding or the debt was affected by fraud. When we believe that the agency has claims or offsets that may have survived the discharge of the debtor, we will contact the Office of the General Counsel for legal advice.

(d) Exception to termination. When a significant enforcement policy is involved or recovery of a judgment is a prerequisite to the imposition of administrative sanctions, we may refer debts to the DOJ for litigation even though termination of collection activity may otherwise be appropriate.

(e) Discharge of indebtedness; reporting requirements. (1)(i) Before discharging a delinquent debt, also referred to as close out of the debt, we will take all appropriate steps to collect the debt in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(g)(9), and §§ 422.803 and 422.810 of this part, including, as applicable, Administrative Offset; tax refund offset; Federal Salary Offset; credit bureau reporting; Administrative Wage Garnishment; litigation; foreclosure; and referral to the Treasury, Treasury-designated debt collection centers, or private collection contractors.

(ii) Discharge of indebtedness is distinct from termination or suspension of collection activity under this subpart, and is governed by the Internal Revenue Code. When collection action on a debt is suspended or terminated, the debt remains delinquent and further collection action may be pursued at a later date in accordance with the standards set forth in this part and 31 CFR parts 900 through 904.

(iii) When we discharge a debt in full or in part, further collection action is prohibited. Therefore, before discharging a debt, we must:

(A) Make the determination that collection action is no longer warranted; and

(B) Terminate debt collection action.

(2) In accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(i), we will use competitive procedures to sell a delinquent debt upon termination of collection action if the Secretary of the Treasury determines such a sale is in the best interests of the United States. Since the discharge of a debt precludes any further collection action, including the sale of a delinquent debt, we may not discharge a debt until the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 3711(i) have been met.

(3) Upon discharge of indebtedness, we must report the discharge to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in accordance with the requirements of 26 U.S.C. 6050P and 26 CFR 1.6050P-1. We may request that Treasury or Treasury-designated debt collection centers file such a discharge report to the IRS on our behalf.

(4) When discharging a debt, we must request that litigation counsel release any liens of record securing the debt.

[80 FR 61734, Oct. 14, 2015, as amended at 88 FR 1329, Jan. 10, 2023]