When All Else Fails, Contact the Taxpayer Advocate

Blog Post by Robert Teuber.

For as long as taxes have existed, people have feared the tax collector. Regardless of how much time has passed or how civilized our society has become, this fear still exists throughout the U.S. population.

The reason for this is clear. The Internal Revenue Service has the power and authority to impose additional tax liabilities following an audit and has the power to collect those taxes by filing liens, garnishing wages, levying on bank accounts or other financial assets or seizing property. There are, however, procedures in place that a taxpayer can use to avoid these harsh collection tactics from taking place. Specifically, if a taxpayer engages the IRS in a discussion about how to resolve the tax liability, the use of levies, garnishments or seizures is uncommon. Based on circumstances, someone can be classified as uncollectible, enter into an installment agreement at a reasonable repayment rate or even compromise the debt.

When dealing with the IRS, as is true in any interaction in our daily lives, you are ultimately dealing with people. When working to set up an installment agreement, the person on the other end may, like any supplier, business associate, spouse, or child, appear to act unreasonably. When this behavior interferes with your procedural rights, a taxpayer may feel helpless to resolve the issue because the government is in the position of power. When this happens, the taxpayer does have somewhere to turn.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service was created in the mid-nineties to provide a level of protection for taxpayers in this type of situation. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that is intended to assist taxpayers in dealing with IRS procedures when they are not working the way they should.

Where a taxpayer feels that the system is not working as intended or that the actions of the IRS will cause unnecessary hardship that is not adequately being taken into consideration, they should reach out to the Taxpayer Advocate Service by contacting either the national office or one of the regional offices. The Taxpayer Advocate Service has an office in each state that can be contacted for assistance. For more information on the Taxpayer Advocate Service, you can visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/advocate. Depending on the situation, the Taxpayer Advocate representative may request that you fill out a Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order).


The comments and opinions expressed in this blog are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Reading or using the information in this blog does not create the existence of an attorney-client privilege. Due to the changing nature of the law, the blog posts may contain dated material. For an update on the current law and the application of the law to your particular facts and circumstances, consult a legal advisor. The information contained herein is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your state.