Guide to Using The IRS' New Taxpayer Advocate Service
The IRS' new Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), which replaced the former IRS-run program known as Program Resolution, has caused some confusion and misunderstanding among practitioners since it was launched two years ago.
TaxTalkToday.tv, a live monthly Webcast sponsored in part by the IRS, ran a seminar this week intended top help educate practitioners on how and when to use the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Practitioners may view an archived copy of the seminar for free.
Panelist Henry O. Lamar, Jr., Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate, IRS began the program by explaining the significant restructuring changes that the Advocate Service has experienced, as a result of IRS modernization. Lamar discussed the new, unique, independent nature of TAS. While the Taxpayer Advocates located in each state no longer report to a local IRS official, their function keeps them closely tied to the IRS. "Taxpayer Advocates work hand-in-hand with the IRS to have an impact on issues that affect taxpayers," Lamar said.
In addition to explaining the internal structure of TAS, panelists addressed the duties of TAS, cases that are appropriate to bring to TAS, and ways that taxpayers and practitioners can contact their Local Advocate. According to panelist David Cooke, Area Director, Taxpayer Advocate Service, IRS, TAS handles two specific categories of cases - those relating to financial or economic hardship, and those involving systemic problems. Roughly 15% of the cases that TAS handles are economic hardships, meaning that a taxpayer is facing a financial crisis, where a tax refund or exemption must receive immediate attention. The remaining 85% of cases handled by TAS are systemic problems, in which a taxpayer is awaiting an overdue response from the IRS. In both cases, TAS can intervene on the taxpayer or practitioner's behalf.
Panelists also explained that TAS can provide direction to tax professionals, in the event that they are unsure of whom they should contact at the IRS. In the wake of IRS modernization, professionals may require added guidance from an independent source. According to Cook, "The practitioner community has sometimes felt at odds about who to deal with at the IRS. TAS has been trying to make these connections for practitioners."
Taxpayer Advocate Criteria
You are eligible to utilize the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you:
- Are suffering, or are about to suffer, a significant hardship;
- Are facing an immediate threat of adverse action;
- Will incur significant cost (including fees for professional representation);
- Will suffer irreparable injury or long-term adverse impact;
- Have experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve the issue;
- Have not received a response or resolution by the date promised.
Additionally, you may contact the Taxpayer Advocate if all established systems or procedures have failed to operate as intended to resolve the problem or dispute.
CONTACT PHONE NUMBER
1-877-777-4778 Taxpayer Advocate Toll Free Number;
1-800-829-1040 General IRS Toll-Free Assistance and ask for Taxpayer Advocate Assistance
or you can write to:
National Taxpayer Advocate
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20224
Attention: Report to Congress