Can the IRS Tax Advocate Service Help You?

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The IRS Tax Advocate Service is an independent branch of the IRS. That actually seems odd when you think of what independent means.  Click here to read or watch more IRS Help resources.

They’re part of the US Treasury Department and aren’t governed by the IRS. Their function is to act as a go-between the IRS and taxpayers.  While their paycheck may come from the IRS, they’re still an independent entity. And that’s a good thing.  Click here to watch or read more information on IRS Back Taxes.

The IRS Tax Advocate Service started in 1996 by an act of Congress. Before this, the IRS had a lot of documented instances of abuse against taxpayers.

The IRS Tax Advocate Service started in 1996 by an act of Congress. Before this, the IRS had a lot of documented instances of abuse against taxpayers.

Congress had experts come in, look things over, and then shake things up. There were hearings and Congress decided to put their foot down. Power corrupts is a true statement.

Punitive Seizures

Punitive seizures were common before the IRS Tax Advocate Service. This is the type of seizure where they could come out and take your car for not paying taxes. They had a lot of power and authority and it went to their heads. They abused that power. All for “alleged” bad behavior on behalf of the taxpayer.

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The IRS would call a tow truck, haul away vehicles, and sell them for almost nothing. All this just to be mean spirited and to punish taxpayers and teach them a lesson. The good news is that it all stopped in 1998 at the passage of the law. There was an absolute denial of due process.

The IRS had the ability to seize what they wanted without giving taxpayers any avenue of dispute. There was no redress allowed. In my opinion it wasn’t constitutional.

What the Taxpayer Advocate Service Does

The IRS Tax Advocate offers free help to guide taxpayers through the confusing tax laws. This actually does help people who can’t solve problems on their own. But keep in mind they aren’t there to serve “due process.”

The IRS Tax Advocate's job is to untangle bureaucratic snarls, which they happen to be good at.  A simple example would be you calling the IRS and not being able to get through. Or, if you do get through, every answer is different than the last. That can be frustrating to say the least. Every time you call the IRS and speak with someone, you’ll get a new ID number. Quality control doesn’t exist in this sense.

The IRS Tax Advocate’s job is to untangle bureaucratic snarls, which they happen to be good at.  A simple example would be you calling the IRS and not being able to get through. Or, if you do get through, every answer is different than the last. That can be frustrating, to say the least. Every time you call the IRS and speak with someone, you’ll get a new ID number. Quality control doesn’t exist in this sense.

Working with a taxpayer advocate gives you one contact person to work with. They can then reach out to the nearest call center. For instance, let’s say that you owe the IRS and send in a payment. The IRS will sometimes cash a check and it won’t show up where it’s supposed to. I tell anyone sending in a payment to photocopy the front and back of the check. The Taxpayer Advocate Service can make sure your check arrives at the correct destination.

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The IRS is a huge operation, so things are going to go wrong on occasion. The IRS Tax Advocate Service doesn’t mind taking care of small problems either.

In fact here are seven things you should know about the IRS Tax Advocate Service if you have a tax problem.

  1. 1. It’s your voice at the IRS. Their main job is to arrange an agreement between the IRS and you.
  2. 2. The tax help provided is at no cost and available to both businesses and individuals.
  3. 3. You may be eligible for the service if you’ve been unsuccessful in resolving your tax issue.
  4. 4. Ask for help. You never know what the IRS Tax Advocate Service will be able to provide, or how they’ll be able to help. Even tax professionals can request help from them on your behalf.
  5. 5. If your taxes are causing financial difficulty, you may qualify for help.
  6. 6. You’ll be assigned an advocate who will represent you to the best of their abilities.
  7. 7. There’s at least one IRS Tax Advocate Service assigned to each state. Their phone number is in each local telephone book.

What the IRS Tax Advocate Service Won’t Handle

Let’s say you haven’t paid taxes in many years. And let’s say you owe around $150,000. Your goal should be to file an offer in compromise to try to settle your debt for less. That’s not a IRS Tax Advocate Service deal, but rather something like a tax pro like myself can help you with. There are just some things an IRS Tax Advocate Service can’t help you with, and that’s one of them.

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Who’s Eligible for Help?

If you’re currently unable to pay or negotiate your tax liability, you could qualify for help. The service is free and their services are tailored to fit the needs of each individual. The same goes for businesses. You can count on these people knowing the tax system inside and out. They know how to navigate and work with individuals at every step along the way.

How About a Few Success Stories!

Story#1: There’s a story about a shifty preparer who allowed a taxpayer to sign their tax return. There was a sizeable balance showing. He then asked the taxpayer to write a check. The arrangement was for the taxpayer to pay the remaining balance when their return was filed. So, the taxpayer departed and the preparer falsely increased the reported expenses. This actually decreased the taxes owed. The preparer plotted to keep the balance. TAS helped the taxpayer resolve the matter.

Case #2: A wife and her husband got a bill from the IRS as a result of an assessment under the husband’s name. It was a little shocking because the husband had no taxable income for the year and didn’t file a tax return. They contacted the IRS and they couldn’t provide an explanation on what happened. The IRS Tax Advocate Service figured out that several people were using the husband’s Social Security number.

It was a classic case of identity theft. The people responsible for the identity theft were identified. The man’s taxes were set straight. Without the help of the IRS Tax Advocate Service, the poor man may have never figured out the mystery.

It was a classic case of identity theft. The people responsible for the identity theft were identified. The man’s taxes were set straight. Without the help of the IRS Tax Advocate Service, the poor man may have never figured out the mystery.

Case #3: A payroll service embezzled funds and failed to pay its payroll taxes to the IRS. The business they stole from had a levy placed on it by the IRS.

The IRS Tax Advocate Service went to work, and discovered that hundreds of businesses were having problems with the same payroll service provider. The IRS Tax Advocate Service helped these businesses avoid IRS liens and penalties.

Case #4: A young mother whose IRS tax refund was delayed called the IRS, and wasn’t given much info about her missing refund. What made matters worse is that she didn’t receive a refund from three years prior. A Taxpayer Advocate got involved and discovered the IRS had tagged her previous refund as fraudulent because of identity theft. The IRS ended up sending the woman’s refund along with the previous refund that was held up.

There’s a lot going on in the world, and it pays to be up on things. I make my living helping people solve tax problems. I know how important it is for a person to have the right representation. Without an advocate, a lot of people would be dead in the water and at the mercy of the IRS.

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