How to Get a Tax Advocate: Tips and Tax Advocate Phone Numbers
Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating. Luckily, there are taxpayer advocates who can help. Here is what you need to know about the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).
What Is a Tax Advocate?
A tax advocate provides free tax help and assistance to people who need help resolving tax problems. Tax advocates work for the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The TAS is an independent unit of the IRS, which helps ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly.
When Should I Contact a Tax Advocate?
You should contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service when you are having difficulties resolving tax problems. In particular, you should contact an advocate if you are dealing with a long delay or experiencing financial hardship from a collection action. You should also contact an advocate if your rights are being violated or if an IRS agent hasn't followed the correct protocol with your situation.
How to Qualify for Tax Advocate Help
Every taxpayer is entitled to help from the tax advocate service. There are no income limits. You simply need to be experiencing a situation that falls under the list of things that the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help with. Take a look at these examples.
Missing Tax Refund
To get help with a missing tax refund, you must have filed your tax return at least 90 days ago, and you must have followed up at least twice with the IRS.
Lack of Response to IRS Questions — Tax Advocate Complaints
You can also contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service if the IRS has not responded to your inquiries. Again, you must have contacted the IRS at least twice on your own, and at least 45 days must have passed or the IRS must not have responded by the date promised.
Problems With IRS Notices
This generally comes into play when you have responded to an IRS notice, but the IRS continues to send the same notice. To get help with an IRS notice, you must have reached out to the IRS at least twice, and the IRS must have ignored you or not provided a meaningful response.
Unfortunately, you don't qualify for help if you simply receive a notice that you don't understand. In this case, you need to reach out for help from a local tax professional. Alternatively, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic may be able to help you if you meet the income requirements.
Economic Harm From Collection Actions — Tax Advocate Hardship
Economic harm applies when you cannot afford essential living expenses due to a collection action. Say, for example, that the IRS has levied the funds in your bank account, and you can't pay your bills, so the utility companies are threatening to shut off your services.
Unresolved IRS Mistakes — Tax Advocate Help
If you have been unable to resolve an IRS mistake through the usual channels, you should reach out to a local taxpayer advocate. Here is an example. Say that the IRS issued a tax lien, and you paid off the tax debt, but several months later, the IRS hasn't withdrawn the lien or filed the Satisfaction of Lien. You're trying to take out a loan, but the lender won't work with you while the tax lien still appears to be in existence.
Rights Not Respected by IRS Agent
You should also contact a taxpayer advocate if a tax agent has not respected your rights. The TAS helps to ensure that every taxpayer has their rights respected.
For example, imagine a tax collector has harassed you at work and talked about your tax liability in front of your boss and co-workers. Then, you should reach out for assistance. You should not, however, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service if you simply don't like the tax agent assigned to your case.
Note that you should not contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service about frivolous concerns. What are frivolous concerns? Here are a few examples:
- You didn't follow the correct IRS processes. For example, you didn't respond by the deadline, or you didn't appeal when you should have.
- You don't agree with an IRS decision. For instance, if the IRS doesn't approve your offer in compromise or payment plan application, this is not an issue where you should contact an advocate. However, if you're facing a collection action that could hurt you financially due to the IRS's decision, then you should reach out to an advocate.
- You don't like the IRS agent assigned to your case.
- You are upset about a tax law. In this case, you should reach out to your congressperson or state representative about your concerns.
- You are being investigated for criminal tax acts. In this case, you should contact a local tax attorney as soon as you can.
- You refuse to pay your tax bill.
These resources exist to help taxpayers, and there can be serious consequences if you tie up these resources for frivolous complaints or concerns. Contacting a taxpayer advocate about a frivolous concern can lead to a $5,000 penalty.
What Does a Tax Advocate Do?
A taxpayer advocate helps you find a resolution with the IRS. Advocates understand the law. They can tell you if your rights are being violated, and they can help you address mistakes that the IRS has made. They can also stop impending collection actions by issuing a Taxpayer Advocate Order.
Do Tax Advocates Really Help?
There are approximately 2,300 taxpayer advocates spread throughout local offices in every state, and they resolve about 200,000 cases per year. They also work quickly, solving most problems in five days and solving complex tax problems in a month.
The TAS also offers local Problem Solving Days. These events are designed to help taxpayers who have been unable to resolve their tax problems through the IRS system.
Unfortunately, taxpayer advocates can't solve every concern. According to the IRS, advocates solve about half of all taxpayer complaints. If you are unable to resolve your issue with a taxpayer advocate or if your concern falls outside of their usual scope of services, you should reach out to a local tax professional such as a tax attorney, CPA, or enrolled agent.
How Do I Get a Tax Advocate?
To get a tax advocate, you need to contact your local taxpayer advocate office. There is a taxpayer advocate office in every state, and populated states such as California, Texas, and Florida have multiple offices. Check out the Taxpayer Advocate Service website to find a location in your area.
You can write a letter to the advocate service asking for help. Or you can simply file Form 911 — Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order). This form requires basic contact information. Then, it lets you outline your tax problem and explain what type of help you want.
If you want to write a letter instead of using Form 911, include this information. In both cases, you should attach supporting documents such as copies of IRS notices with your request for help. For the fastest results, fax these documents to your local advocate office.
Local Taxpayer Advocate
A lot of people want to know how to find a tax advocate near me. Again, you simply need to visit the TAS website linked above. Then, you should select your state from the drop-down menu, and a list of local tax advocates in your state will appear.
In many cases, there is just one office in the biggest city or the state capital. However, in other states, there are multiple offices. The closest advocate office may be in another state if you live near the border.
Phone Number for Tax Advocate
The list of local tax advocate offices also includes a phone number and a fax number for each office. You can find a tax advocate number by using the state menu on the Taxpayer Advocate Service website. Alternatively, you can call 877-777-4778.
This is the main tax advocate's phone number. When you dial 877-777-4778, you can see if the advocates can help with your problem. You can also ask how to reach your local advocate office.
Get Help to Resolve Your Problem
A tax advocate can help you address a wide range of tax problems. However, they aren't right for every situation. To get help dealing with the IRS, use TaxCure to search for a local tax pro today.