IRS Taxpayer Advocate
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– Joe Mastriano, CPA
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Assistance From The IRS People Pursuing You
The IRS Taxpayer Advocate is the group to go to when you need IRS help and all else fails. When trying to resolve something with an IRS employee, and there is a disagreement, request to speak to the manager. If that fails, and you still think they are being unreasonable you can go to the supervisor, or the taxpayer advocates office. Let’s see how this works.
How a Taxpayer Advocate Works
You, the taxpayer, call the Automated Collection Service and are not getting anywhere with the ACS employee. Asking to speak to an ACS manager usually doesn’t work very well, and they often won’t call you back. So just hang up nicely, and call back immediately till you get someone who is at least somewhat reasonable. Then attempt to work out why you called. First verify the status of your case. Ask, is this an ACS case? Is the case in the queue being transferred to a revenue officer? If it is an ACS case, then ACS has control over it. If your case is waiting to be transferred to a revenue officer, the ACS employee can’t really take action on it, so don’t waste your time. They will try to ask questions and take control. They may try to get collection information from you. Just find out what you need, and hang up the phone. Make sure you call revenue officers immediately when you hear from them. They have a habit of levying accounts quicker than you think. Don’t give them bank or work information, even if they press for it. Just tell them you need about two weeks to get everything together. They will want to set up a meeting. Set it up two weeks from now. Preferably in their office if they will allow it. Another benefit when a taxpayer has a representative, is that the meetings are mostly in the representative’s office so the IRS doesn’t poke around your place! Spend the time leading up to the meeting getting your financial statements and back up information together. Look up the IRS table expense allowances for the expenses on the 433A, and put together a picture of your income and expense information and asset situation. Know ahead of time what assets the IRS will allow you to keep, and the likelihood of them allowing each expense deduction. If a taxpayer is properly prepared, they have a greater chance of getting what they want.
Right To Use a Taxpayer Advocate
If the taxpayer deals with a revenue officer, the same applies. Don’t allow them to brow beat you into submission. You have the right to hire a representative and have time before disclosing your financial information to them. They will try to get you to answer questions about marital status, business ID #’s etc. Even if you think the answers are easy and won’t hurt you, don’t give it to them. If you do, you establish a rapport that allows them influence over you for future questions. In addition you may give information you will want to retract later. Just keep insisting that you are you, and your social security number is yours, and your address is yours and for the rest you will get back to them with on the date of the meeting.
If they don’t want to wait two weeks, you can agree to a meeting in one week with an agreement from the R.O. to an extension if necessary. If they expect you to meet sooner, ask for manager’s name and phone number (which you should do anyway from the start), so you can find out why you can’t have two weeks. The R.O. may change the date, or try to brow beat you into not calling. Tell them you are not calling to complain about the R.O. This is very important and should always be said when you ask for someone’s manager. Never get mad and say “give me your manager!” They take that as a threat, and they can get very tough if you fight with them. Just say you want the manager’s opinion about the appointment date, because you think it is unreasonable, and you want to know what they think about it. Don’t be surprised if the manager gives you more time. The manager may also try to intimidate you for calling. No problem, this way you find out early on if you have a good manager or one who doesn’t police the revenue officers in their group. This information will help you make decisions later. If you are really getting frustrated trying to handle your tax problems with the collection division, and they are about to issue a lien, or levy, or other collection action, you could call the taxpayer advocate group. You can search at http://www.irs.gov/advocate or just Google “Taxpayer Advocate” for the Form 911 to use. It’s easy to fill out. No need to give you line by line instructions. But I warn you, when they get busy, they will attempt to make little of your hardship reason. Be careful to explain, and attach an additional sheet if necessary, how you will suffer a great hardship if they don’t intervene. Explain exactly what you want them to do. If you have to get them involved because the R.O. has threaten to take enforcement action because of a short deadline, or some other petty reason, then so be it. File your 911 by fax and call the Advocates office to follow it up. Another reason the Advocate uses to turn down a case, is that they will claim that you have not proven that the current action is a burden to you. You can’t assume that collection action will take place. You actually have to ask the revenue officer what he/she intends to do if you miss your one week deadline (for example). They may say nothing probably, just issue a letter. Well until you know what’s in that letter, you may not have the level of hardship required for an advocate case. The letter may just be a second request (a formal one) for documents. So make sure you can explain, in detail, the exact action that is imminent, and will cause you the exact hardship you see will happen to you.
More On The Taxpayer Advocate
The taxpayer advocate works with the IRS, often in the same building. You should call them to see if they will take your case. Use them for help when dealing with the collection division or the offer in compromise division, not the audit division. I’ve never used them for an offer division complaint. I’m not sure if they have much power, since the offer division claims they can pretty much deny as they wish. Appeals can force them to take lower valuations for items. Other than that, they can make suggestions concerning fairness. I’ve not experienced Appeals to have much more power. One good thing about the taxpayer advocate’s office, is that they have greater powers then previously to get the attention of the collection division. They are taken very seriously, and the collection division will respond promptly to them.
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