Taxpayer Advocate Service: Can the IRS Help You?

April 30, 2012 | By: TaxCure Staff

tpaMany of us don’t think of the IRS as a helpful entity when it comes to resolving problems. However, the IRS does have an independent organization aimed at helping taxpayers figure out what went wrong – and how they can fix it.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is designed to help those who are having trouble with their taxes, and who can’t solve their problems through normal channels. Many of those taxpayers most likely to benefit from the Taxpayer Advocate Service are those experiencing economic hardship, as well as those who feel as though an IRA procedure is working in a way that causes harm.

In addition to providing individual help to taxpayers, the Taxpayer Advocate Service also looks into system-wide problems at the IRS. Advocates look at policy and procedure and recommend changes that can improve the overall experience for multiple taxpayers. The systemic part of the Taxpayer Advocate Service also addresses issues of taxpayer rights, and even works to improve equitable treatment of taxpayers and reduce taxpayer burdens.

Who Can Use the Taxpayer Advocate Service?

Employees of the Taxpayer Advocate Service are used to help taxpayers who meet specific eligibility requirements. The services provided are free of charge, and there is a screening process to determine whether or not you should use the service. In general, here the three main that mark eligibility for using the Taxpayer Advocate Service:

  • Experience of economic harm. This can also include the cost of representation from a professional. If you are subject to economic difficulty, or if you are experiencing economic harm as a result of your tax problem, you might be eligible for help.
  • The date promised by the IRS for a resolution of the tax issue has passed, and a response has not been received.
  • A delay of more than 30 days has been experienced as the taxpayer tries to resolve the issue.

In these cases, it’s possible to use the free and confidential Taxpayer Advocate Service. Advocates understand the IRS and are employed by the agency. This means that they are likely to be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of procedure and process. Advocates are trained to listen to taxpayers and respond in a way that is specific to the taxpayer's problems. You can work with the same advocate until your tax issue is resolved.

Contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service

Each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, has at least one Taxpayer Advocate Service representative. In most localities, you can check your phone book (in the government listing section) for information. You can also find the information in Publication 1546, which is designed to provide information about how the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help you.

Additionally, it’s also possible to fill out and submit IRS Form 911, which can help you get into the system so that you are contacted by a representative of the Taxpayer Advocate Service. You can even ask an IRS employee to fill out Form 911 on your behalf. Finally, you can call 1-877-777-4778 to connect with an advocate.