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What is the Taxpayer Advocate?

The Taxpayer Advocate helps taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS. The Taxpayer Advocate also recommends changes to help prevent problems in the future. The advocate handles those tax problems that are causing significant financial difficulty; when you or your business are facing immediate, adverse threat; and when you have tried to contact the IRS repeatedly to no avail. The Taxpayer Advocate is a member of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

As the website suggests, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is considered the voice of the taxpayer. The website suggests the following: “Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly, and that you know and understand your rights. We offer free help to guide you through the often-confusing process of resolving your tax problems” (IRS.gov, Taxpayer Advocate Service, “Who We Are,” 9/4/2013). The most important thing the TAS urges every taxpayer to consider is working with the Internal Revenue Service. The worst thing that a taxpayer can do is nothing at all (“Who We Are”).

The mission of the Taxpayer Advocate Service is to help taxpayers resolve their tax problems and recommend changes to help prevent future tax problems. As noted above, the best time for a taxpayer to come to the TAS is when the tax problem is causing financial difficulty, when their business is under immediate threat, and when repeated appeals to the IRS have failed to receive a response.

You must qualify to receive help through the Taxpayer Advocate Service. The next section outlines the eligibility requirements of the service.

Who Qualifies for Taxpayer Advocate Assistance?

An independent organization within the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) assists taxpayers experiencing “economic harm[1]” and those seeking help in resolving tax problems. The TAS also assists taxpayers who hold the belief that one part of the IRS system is not functioning as it should.

With this in mind, taxpayers are eligible for this type of assistance if they are currently experiencing economic harm; within this context, economic harm may be defined as the inability of the taxpayer to pay the significant costs of negotiating their tax liability with the IRS (TAS). Significant costs may include those fees charged by professional representation. In addition, taxpayers are eligible for TAS assistance if they “have experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve [their] tax issue” (IRS.gov, “Who May Use The Taxpayer Advocate Service,” 8/28/2013).

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is a free service. The assistance is tailored to meet each taxpayer’s need and it is available for businesses as well as individuals. Each state houses at least one Taxpayer Advocate. “Because they are part of the IRS, Advocates know the tax system and how to navigate it. If you qualify, you will receive personalized service from a knowledgeable Advocate who will” listen, help you understand the dynamics of how to resolve your tax issue, and endure the process with you every step of the way. For more information, contact a local Taxpayer Advocate in your area.[2] Taxpayers must complete Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order).

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[1] The term “economic harm” is used by the Taxpayer Advocate Service. For more information about the term, visit the website.

[2] The link for contacting a local Taxpayer Advocate is available here: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-a-Local-Taxpayer-Advocate.

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