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The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent office within the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Its purpose is to help U.S. taxpayers resolve tax problems with the IRS. It provides its services to taxpayers at no charge. Businesses and individual taxpayers are eligible for services. TAS reports directly to the U.S. Congress through the national taxpayer advocate.
TAS provides assistance with certain types of tax problems. Typical problems it will help to address are difficulties with taxpayers not receiving refunds, disputes concerning notice requirements, failure of the IRS to respond to a taxpayer’s inquiries, and emergency issues that may cause a taxpayer significant hardship. An advocate will help with these problems if the taxpayer has not been able to get the situation resolved through the ordinary IRS process. A taxpayer must show that he has made good faith efforts to resolve a problem with the IRS without success before TAS will step in.
To qualify for assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, a taxpayer must usually complete IRS Form 911, which is an application for a taxpayer assistance order. This form requests basic taxpayer information, such as name, address, Social Security number, and contact information. The taxpayer must also provide an explanation of the problem he is experiencing with the IRS, the hardship it is creating, and the relief he is seeking. Signing the form lets the taxpayer authorize employees of the Taxpayer Advocate Service to contact third parties in connection with the request.
Upon receiving IRS Form 911, TAS will determine if significant hardship exists. It will also determine what action it can take to help relieve the hardship. In some circumstances, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can have the IRS suspend enforcement action while reviewing a taxpayer’s situation. If a taxpayer qualifies for assistance, the Taxpayer Advocate Service will assign an advocate to the taxpayer.
TAS will not help with all problems. For example, if a taxpayer’s case is in the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, it will not intervene. It will also usually decline cases for which the IRS has designated a taxpayer as a tax protester who simply refuses to pay taxes based on constitutional claims. If in doubt as to whether the Taxpayer Advocate Service will help with a specific problem, a taxpayer should make a request to be sure that he does not qualify for assistance. A taxpayer has nothing to lose by trying to get help from the office.