Does The IRS Offer Any Assistance To Taxpayers Who Need Help Resolving Tax Problems?

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The goals of the Taxpayer Advocate Service are to reduce the burdens on taxpayers and protect individual and business taxpayer rights. If a taxpayer has experienced economic harm, needs help solving tax problems that have not been taken care of through normal procedures or believes that an IRS process is not working, he or she can use the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Each state has at least one Advocate who works independently of the IRS office in that state. The Taxpayer Advocate seeks to ensure that taxpayer issues are handled in a prompt and fair manner and identify issues that make things more difficult for taxpayers. Advocates are knowledgeable about the tax system and they listen to taxpayers’ problems, help taxpayers understand how to fix the situation and help taxpayers at every stage until the matter is resolved. The Service is free and confidential.

A taxpayer is eligible for assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if:

  • The taxpayer is dealing with economic harm or significant costs, such as fees for professional representation
  • The taxpayer has faced a delay of over 30 days to resolve the issue
  • The IRS has failed to provide a response or solution to the taxpayer’s issue by a promised date

In addition to helping individual taxpayers and businesses with their problems within the IRS, another role of the Taxpayer Advocate Service is to suggest changes to the IRS’s procedures and rules that will help reduce or eliminate problems. In other words, the Taxpayer Advocate Service seeks to address systemic problems that affect multiple taxpayers; affect local, regional or national groups of taxpayers; relate to IRS policies and procedures; require administrative changes or legislative remedies; or involve protecting taxpayer rights, ensuring fair and equal treatment of taxpayers, reducing or preventing taxpayer burden or providing essential services to taxpayers.

If a taxpayer is experiencing a tax problem that a number of others are also dealing with, the taxpayer can submit the issue to the Taxpayer Advocacy Service for review through the Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS). After review, some issues become advocacy projects, which identify and try to develop solutions for problems that affect a large number of taxpayers.

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Robert M. Mendell

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