Why You Should Know About the Taxpayer Advocate Service
Dealing with the IRS can feel scary and overwhelming when something has gone wrong with your taxes. Unfortunately, even hiring a tax professional to prepare and submit your taxes isn’t a foolproof plan—wires can still get crossed and paperwork lost. And while speaking with an IRS agent on the phone can help to resolve some issues, it can often be a long, drawn-out, and/or fruitless effort.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS to help individuals and businesses when traditional routes of resolution aren’t working. The TAS also identifies and works to fix larger systemic tax filing problems that can impact many taxpayers.
Congress created the TAS for the purpose of protecting taxpayers’ rights and to tackle recurring difficulties. There is at least one TAS office in every state, in Puerto Rico, and in the District of Columbia. Help from the TAS is free.
If you qualify for help, the TAS will assign you an experienced advocate who will review your information and account, research applicable laws, request and submit the proper documentation, and argue on your behalf to resolve your issue. They may work with you to collect proper documentation and coordinate and expedite the processing of your case with one or more IRS units. Any and all information you provide your advocate is protected by confidentiality rules.
Who qualifies for help
The first and most important requirement is that you have done your best to solve the problem on your own through appropriate channels. Even though TAS assistance is free, you don’t have to be low-income to qualify for help. Beyond this, here are the main criteria the TAS says will qualify you for help:
- You’re experiencing “economic harm” or “significant cost” as a result of your situation with the IRS. This can mean that the cost of professional representation is beyond your financial means.
- Your problem is time-sensitive in regard to looming financial harm. A case may be accepted if a taxpayer is experiencing some financial difficulty, emergency, or hardship, and the IRS must operate much faster than it usually does under normal procedures.
- If multiple IRS units are having communication problems between themselves about your case.
- The IRS isn’t responding or working with you in a timely manner.
- There’s a breakdown in the usual routes of problem solving, like lost paperwork not resolved in 30 days, or an agent who has changed jobs and is no longer available.
- Your circumstances are unique beyond standard provisions and procedures.
- A Congress member recommends the TAS helps you.
The TAS national number is 1-877-777-4778 or you can visit your local TAS office. To find the nearest office, visit https://taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov and use the map of listed locations. Believe it or not, you can also contact them via snail-mail using Form 911, the Request for Taxpayer Advocate Assistance. Use the address listed on the map for your local office. It will also provide a fax number.
You can use their website to learn how to solve common issues and see if you qualify for their help.Go to main navigation