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IRS Tax Tip – Taxpayer Advocate Service: Helping taxpayers navigate their IRS issues or concerns

The IRS is a huge organization, and it enforces one of the most complicated laws in the country. It ensures that all its divisions, branches, and units work in tandem with each other to process more than 200 million tax returns every year. Although there are procedures in place, things may go wrong sometimes. Say, for instance, a document gets lost or a critical employee leaves the job. If you happen to hit a dead end due to any such issues, the TAS may help you find a way out.

Problems With The Irs

If you are having trouble with the IRS, our office or may be able to help. Please call us at 774-5019.

You can also contact the Taxpayer Advocate, and independent advocate within the IRS, who works with taxpayers to help them solve their IRS problems. You can reach the Taxpayer Advocate at 207-480-6094 in Augusta or 1-877-777-4778 elsewhere, or see Publication 1546, The Taxpayer Advocate Service of the IRS.

Pine Tree Legal Assistance also offers legal assistance to taxpayers. You can find contact for their offices around the state here.

Taxpayer Advocate Warns Of Tax Refund Delays This Season

    National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins expressed deep concerns Wednesday about the upcoming tax filing season in her annual report to Congress on the 2021 filing season.

    The report found that tens of millions of taxpayers saw delays in the processing of their returns last year, and with 77% of individual taxpayers receiving tax refunds, processing delays translated directly into refund delays. Similar delays or worse are likely to occur this year.

    The IRS itself and the Treasury Department are warning of tax refund delays this year due to staffing shortages stemming from budget cuts and the COVID-19 pandemic . The IRS has also been coping with the complexities of administering this past years tax relief measures, including advance Child Tax Credit payments and Economic Impact Payments. The IRS is still dealing with millions of unprocessed tax returns, especially ones that arrived on paper.

    While my report focuses primarily on the problems of 2021, I am deeply concerned about the upcoming filing season, Collins said in releasing the report. Paper is the IRSs Kryptonite, and the agency is still buried in it.

    There is no way to sugarcoat the year 2021 in tax administration, Collins wrote. The year 2021 provided no shortage of taxpayer problems.

    The report blamed processing delays for leading to an array of customer service problems:

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    Emergency Help: Taxpayer Assistance Orders

    Taxpayer advocates can quickly intervene on behalf of taxpayers to local IRS officers and IRS campuses. The advocates can order the IRS to cease from any action that causes a significant hardship by issuing a Taxpayer Assistance Order, or TAO. Or, they will try to work out a solution to your problem without actually issuing a formal TAO, especially in the following situations:

    • The IRS has seized or has threatened to seize your bank account, pension plan, or car. You need to pay rent or your family will be thrown out on the street, and you need that car to get to work.
    • Your paycheck was garnished by the IRS leaving you too little on which to survive. You are willing to enter into a reasonable payment plan if the wage garnishment is stopped.

    Who Qualifies For Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance

    How Does the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Help Me?

    Generally speaking, the TAS will take on your case if you’re facing an economic burden or a systematic burden, or if it believes your rights and guarantees of equitable treatment are being jeopardized. You dont have to be a low-income individual to qualify for TAS assistance anyone can qualify, including a business or charity.

    While the ultimate decision of whether or not to help will be made by someone with TAS, here are some more detailed examples of when the TAS is likely to help:

    • Your problem is time-sensitive within the context of financial harm: If you’re facing an immediate threat of actions that will have a negative impact on you, you could qualify for TAS assistance.
    • The IRS isn’t accurately communicating with you about the details of your case: TAS might get involved if you were promised a response to an issue by a certain date, for example, and the IRS failed to respond by then.
    • Theres a breakdown in the usual IRS problem-solving methods: Whenever there’s a breakdown in the systems or procedures at the IRS, TAS is more likely to take your case.
    • Your circumstances are unique:If you have a unique situation that isn’t appropriately addressed by current tax law, TAS might get involved to propose legislative or administrative changes to resolve the issue.

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    An Overview Of The Irs Advocate Service

    The office of Taxpayer Advocate, created in 1996 under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, replaces the Office of the Ombudsman that existed within the IRS. The TAS has about 1,800 employees, out of which almost 1,400 are case advocates whose job is to help taxpayers in getting their issues resolved with the IRS. However, in order to qualify for the personal assistance, you must meet certain criteria, such as undue financial hardship, delay by the IRS in resolving your tax issue, and no response from the IRS.

    In addition to directly assisting taxpayers in resolving their tax issues, the TAS also works on identifying problems existing in the IRS system and its procedures as well as suggesting administrative and legislative changes to solve such issues. It studies the patterns in taxpayer problems to ascertain whether any procedural changes are required. It has an online reporting system wherein taxpayers can report any systemic issues of broader impact.

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    TAS also offers a tax toolkit to educate taxpayers about their rights in a simple language with the help of examples. It even works to reduce the burden of taxpayers and promote equitable treatment.

    Getting Help With Tax Preparation

    Preparing your taxes can be a confusing prospect but no one should think they have to tackle it by themselves. There are a number of completely free services that can connect Maine taxpayers with qualified tax preparers who can help them get their taxes filled out and get the biggest refund possible.Through Free File, all taxpayers who made $62,000 or less can visit www.IRS.gov/freefile to prepare and e-file their federal tax returns at no cost.

    To order paper tax forms, call the IRS help line at 800-829-3676.

    To get help preparing your taxes for free, call 2-1-1.There are two services to help Mainers get help filing their taxes. Both are completely free, have many locations throughout the state, and are staffed by IRS certified tax preparers. To find a location near you, just call 2-1-1.

    • The CA$H Maine program is a project of VITA, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, and is available to any Mainer making under $50,000 per year.
    • The AARP Tax Aide program also helps thousands of low to moderate income taxpayers of all ages fill out their taxes.

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    Tax Gap And Tax Shelters

    What does the IRS do and how can it be improved?

    The IRS administers the federal tax laws that the Congress enacts.

    The Internal Revenue Service administers the federal tax laws that Congress enacts. The IRS performs three main functionstax return processing, taxpayer service, and enforcement. In addition, the IRS conducts criminal investigations and oversees tax-exempt organizations and qualified retirement plans. The IRS budget and workforce have been shrinking, even as the tax law has become more complex and the agency has taken on new tasks.

    IRS Activities

    Nearly 40 percent of the IRSs $11.7 billion budget in 2018 went to enforcement . About 83 percent of the enforcement budget was for examinations of taxpayer returns and collections. The IRS spent the remainder on criminal investigations and regulatory activities, including monitoring tax-exempt organizations and qualified retirement plans.

    About 37 percent of the budget funded operations support, including information technology, services, facilities, and organizational support. Another 21 percent supports taxpayer services, including prefiling taxpayer assistance and education and filing and account services. Finally, another 2 percent went to business systems modernization to upgrade information and technology services.

    The Decline in spending and workforce and why it is a problem

    What can be done?

    How Irs Taxpayer Advocate Service Can Help You

    Examination Overview – IRS Audits, from the Taxpayer Advocate Service

    At Solvable, we care about your financial well-being and are here to help. Our research, articles and ratings, and assessments are based strict editorial integrity. Our company gets compensated by partners who appear on our website. Here isSee More

    Putting your case before the IRS in the right manner requires a lot of knowledge and expertise in the field of taxation. Under the tax law, you can have a tax attorney to represent you before a federal tax authority. If you are facing trouble dealing with the IRS, or if any federal taxation issue is causing undue hardship to you, then the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service can offer you some respite.

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    How To Request Help From Tas

    If you want help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, you need to connect with your local TAS office. If you dont have an office near you, consider reaching out over the phone. When you click on your state on the IRSs interactive map, you receive the addresses of TAS offices in your state as well as the local and toll-free numbers for every office.

    Alternatively, you can also call the TAS national office at 1-877-777-4778 for more details. If you prefer to reach out through the mail, fill out IRS Form 911 .

    How To Get Help From The Tas

    Start by visiting the Taxpayer Advocate website, which includes answers to many questions and common tax problems. If you still need help resolving problems with the IRS, use the map feature on the website to find contact information for your local TAS office.Its not guaranteed that the TAS will accept your case. However, the TAS does have the power to help you when youve tried unsuccessfully to resolve your problem with the IRS by yourself. They can do the most good when your case falls into one of these categories:

    Its not guaranteed that the TAS will accept your case. However, the TAS does have the power to help you when youve tried unsuccessfully to resolve your problem with the IRS by yourself. They can do the most good when your case falls into one of these categories:

    • If your case needs to be processed quickly in order to avoid causing you more financial harm, the TAS can speed things up. For example, the IRS may need to remove a levy or release a lien when you are having a financial emergency, difficulty or hardship.
    • If your case is complex and different steps and units of the IRS are involved, the TAS can help coordinate the various parts of the process.
    • If you have a unique case that doesnt work well with the one size fits all approach of the IRS, or you feel the IRS isnt listening to you, the TAS can work on your behalf. They may try to have the IRS issue new guidance, if necessary, for your circumstances.

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    Cant Pay Your Taxes Theres A Taxpayer Advocate Who Can Help

    Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the authors opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

    Not receiving a tax refund can be disappointing enough, especially if you look forward to getting a little financial boost each April.

    What if you not only dont get a refund, but you actually end up owing money? Even worse, what happens when you owe more money than you can afford to pay? Going to bat against the Internal Revenue Service by yourself can be annoying at best and downright traumatizing at worst. Luckily, you dont always have to go through the process alone.

    What Happens If I Cannot Pay My Taxes Within The Time Given

    IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Employee Charged in Identity ...

    Customers can apply for the Hardship or Offer in Compromise Program if:

    • The customers has financial or medical hardships that are unable to pay within the normal time limits offered through the normal collection process OR
    • The customer’s livelihood is threatened.

    The taxpayer advocate is authorized to review these cases and make every attempt to collect the tax, while meeting the special needs of the customer. This could include establishing an Offer-in-Compromise or Claim for Hardship.

    Special needs taken into consideration are:

    • Loss due to disaster
    • The loss of a family member
    • Severe financial problems

    Note: Once a collection agent has begun proceedings, the Taxpayer Advocate Office may not be able to provide assistance. Each case will be individually reviewed.

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    When Youre Trying To Resolve An Issue With The Irs You Can Feel Stressed Frustrated And Alone

    You may feel you need expert help to navigate the complexities of dealing with the IRS. It generally costs money to hire a tax professional who knows the ins and outs of the tax code and how the IRS works. But if you qualify for assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, or TAS, you may be able to get that expert help for free.

    Read on to learn about the Taxpayer Advocate Service and how it can help eligible taxpayers deal with challenging IRS issues.

    What This Means For You

    • The IRS must include information about your right to Taxpayer Advocate Service assistance, and how to contact TAS, in all notices of deficiency. IRC § 6212
    • When collecting tax, the IRS should treat you with courtesy. Generally, the IRS should only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. The IRS should not contact you at your place of employment if the IRS knows or has reason to know that your employer does not allow such contacts. IRC § 6304
    • If you are an individual taxpayer eligible for Low Income Taxpayer Clinic assistance, the IRS may provide information to you about your eligibility for assistance from an LITC. IRC § 7526For more information, see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. Or find an LITC near you.
    • Certain notices written by the IRS must contain the name, phone number, and identifying number of the IRS employee, and all notices must include a telephone number that the taxpayer may contact. During a phone call or in-person interview, the IRS employee must provide you with his or her name and ID number. RRA 98 § 3705
    • The IRS is required to publish the local address and phone number of the IRS in local phone books. RRA 98 § 3709

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    Goals Of The Taxpayer Advocate Program

    The IRS acknowledges that taxpayers are often ignored or shuffled among different IRS departments. The Taxpayer Advocates Services goals are to:

    • assist taxpayers facing hardships
    • ensure that taxpayers have an independent, monitored system for the resolution of problems that have not been solved through regular IRS channels
    • serve as a taxpayers advocate within the IRS to make sure that the taxpayer has a say in the IRS decision-making process, and
    • recommend administrative and legislative changes to Congress.

    Getting Tax Help From The Taxpayer Advocate Service

    Automated Underreporter Program – IRS Audits, from the Taxpayer Advocate Service

    The Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help you if you fall into one of these four categories:

    Youre experiencing some type of financial difficulty, personal emergency, or hardship and you need the IRS to move faster than it usually does under its usual procedures.

  • You need assistance when there are several different IRS units and steps involved, and you need the TAS to coordinate each departments efforts.

  • Youve tried to resolve a problem through normal IRS channels but those channels have broken down and you havent made any progress.

  • Youre presenting unique facts or issues and the IRS isnt listening, doesnt recognize a need for new guidance given your circumstances, or is using a one size fits all approach.

  • If you fall in one of these categories and qualify for help from the TAS, one specific advocate will be assigned to you to address your concerns. Your advocate will do everything he or she can to make sure your problem is resolved.

    The TAS has offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It operates independently within the IRS and has direct access to IRS departments to help in resolving taxpayer problems.

    All services from the Taxpayer Advocate Service are free and eligible taxpayers receive very personalized services where the advocate is with them every step of the way.

    The TAS can be a very valuable resource for those who arent able to get the help or assistance they need with tax-related issues in a timely manner.

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    Complaints And Unresolved Or Complex Tax Issues

    To request assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Office with an unresolved or complex tax issue that hasn’t been resolved by DOR, please complete and submit Form TAO-PRP:

    This form is used for assistance in the following situations:

    • You were unable to resolve a state tax issue through normal administrative channels within DOR prior to contacting the Taxpayer Advocate Office and you can document your attempts.
    • A DOR response is not provided by the date promised or within 120 days.
    • You believe instructions or information provided by DOR are incorrect.
    • You note the existence of a recurrent issue or systematic processing problem.

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