Your Secret Little Helper at the IRS
- Posted by Joshua Sells
- On February 8, 2022
- IRS Back Taxes, IRS Tax Attorney, Tax Resolution, Taxpayer Advocate Service
You probably didn't even know about your very own helper at the IRS - the Taxpayer Advocate Service
IRS Tax Resolution
You probably didn’t even know that you do have an “emergency” contact at the IRS. It’s called the Taxpayer Advocate. Funny enough, the form you use to get their help is the IRS Form 911. When nothing else seems to work, the Advocate can break through the IRS red tape and make things happen. As an IRS tax attorney, I use the Taxpayer Advocate for my clients all the time.
Imagine, for a moment, that you owed the IRS $5,000 on your tax return last year. You filed your return, and sent a check a few weeks later via USPS. Now, we strongly recommend against mailing checks to the IRS. It is much better to pay electronically through IRS Direct Pay. But anyways, let’s just role with this example.
Then, 3 months later, they hadn’t cashed the check, and were sending you new collection notices. Plus, they started tacking on new penalties – lots and lots penalties.
So, you send another check, via certified mail, along with an explanation that you had already sent payment.
Now, a full 8 months later, the second check has also never been cashed, but the collection notices continue. And the penalties continue to accumulate. (You had better call us about those IRS tax penalties – we can get those removed).
What is going on?
Unfortunately, there are currently millions of people facing this type of nightmare scenario. Why? Because the IRS is still dealing with a backlog of mail dating back to 2020. As of just a few weeks ago, the IRS was still working on over 11 million unprocessed tax returns, plus had over 5 million pieces of unanswered mail. This is unprecedented! Never have I ever seen anything like this.
The IRS not answering their mail is a really big deal. If you’re waiting for a refund that’s being held up, or you’re accumulating penalties that you shouldn’t be charged, it’s a serious problem for you.
What’s even worse is that you can’t even get through to the IRS on the phone right now in order to try getting things resolved. In 2020, the IRS managed to only answer 1 in 4 incoming phone calls. In 2021, the IRS managed to answer only 1 in 11 calls. Isn’t that crazy? Less than 10% of all phone calls were answered!
In fairness to the IRS, Congress placed a heavy burden on the agency, drastically increasing their workload by making them responsible for handling the bulk of stimulus measures over the last two years. But that obviously is of no solace to you if you’re one of these folks accumulating penalties for a tax debt that shouldn’t even exist.
So, what recourse is there?
Within the IRS, there is a “watchdog” organization called the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The goal of TAS is to assist taxpayers that are experiencing certain types of problems with the IRS when normal government processes just aren’t working the way they’re supposed. In addition, TAS advises the IRS on how to do things better, and also reports to Congress on what problems exist.
Needless to say, this annual report to Congress is a fairly lengthy one.
TAS can’t help with everything, however. They have nine specific categories of problems that they’re legally allowed to work on, as per their mandate from Congress. These nine categories can be lumped into three broad types of problems:
- You will face serious financial consequences because of what the IRS is doing (or not doing).
- The IRS is taking a ridiculously long time to fix your time.
- Something the IRS is doing (or not doing) is violating your rights.
For example, if the IRS Collections division is about to start garnishing your wages because of a debt that you’ve already paid – because the left hand isn’t talking to the right – this might cause a serious financial problem for you. Not being able to feed your kids, pay for the heat, or pay the rent is obviously a serious problem.
In situations like this, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can intervene to help you out. What’s even better is that you don’t have to rely on reaching somebody at the blank void in some IRS call center for this help. Instead, there is a local case advocate right here in our own state that will be assigned to work on your case and intervene with the Collections division.
As with all things at the IRS, the TAS has their own forms, policies, and procedures for handling cases. And, as you might expect, they’re getting absolutely slammed right now with requests for help – many of which are outside the nine legal criteria for what they can handle, forcing them to turn down these cases. This obviously just creates additional delays and frustration for you.
Let us help you evaluate whether or not your situation is eligible for help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, or if perhaps another solution exists for you. Whether working with TAS or not, we know how to handle the bureaucracy and can help you obtain a resolution to your IRS problem.
If you have some kind of IRS tax situation that you feel like you are getting know where, schedule a free case analysis with me – your IRS tax attorney – to evaluate what we should do. We may very well recommend getting the Taxpayer Advocate involved. Click here to schedule your free case analysis with your IRS tax attorney today.