Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Who's in your Corner When the I.R.S. is at your Door?

Darth Vader as depicted in The Empire Strikes ...Image via Wikipedia
What strikes terror in the hearts of the individual like a letter from the I.R.S. I know because I received a couple in my day. You feel like Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vader in battle for the first time. Maybe not that bad but close.

If you have never dealt with the I.R.S. count yourself lucky, it's an experience you can do without.  In my case I claimed a deduction I shouldn't have and got busted. They offered me a payment plan. I took it and it was over. 

I was lucky with my minor scrape with the I.R.S. but some people have been audited and charged fines and late fees. They have had to hire lawyers and meet multiple times with an auditor. Many months of correspondence fighting the problem is exhausting.

What happens if your not getting anywhere with the I.R.S., it feels like they are so powerful and intimidating. There is help, someone to stand up to them and be in your corner. Where do you find them? Well, there at the I.R.S. Believe it or not the I.R.S. has something called the Taxpayer Advocate Service. It's an in house advocacy group that will stand up for you, all you have to do is ask.

Their mission statement is:

Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Mission: As an independent organization within the IRS, we help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and recommend changes that will prevent the problems.

Here are seven things every taxpayer should know about TAS:

1. TAS is your voice at the IRS.

2. The service is free, confidential, and tailored to meet your needs.

3. You may be eligible for TAS help if you have tried to resolve your tax problem through normal IRS channels and have gotten nowhere, or you believe an IRS procedure just isn't working as it should. 

4. TAS helps taxpayers whose problems are causing financial difficulty or significant cost, including the cost of professional representation. This includes businesses as well as individuals.

5. TAS employees know the IRS and how to navigate it. They will listen to your problem, help you understand what needs to be done to resolve it, and stay with you every step of the way until your problem is resolved.

6. TAS has at least one local taxpayer advocate in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. You can call your local advocate, whose number is in your phone book, in Publication 1546, Taxpayer Advocate Service -- Your Voice at the IRS, and on the website at Contact Your Advocate. You can also call the toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778.

7. You can learn about your rights and responsibilities as a taxpayer by visiting the online tax toolkit at

This advocacy at a government institution is a breathe of fresh air. It's hard enough to deal with a bureaucracy normally, a helping hand and a kind face is what's needed in government. A little customer satisfaction goes a long way. 

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