The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an organization that operates independently within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and exists in order to assist taxpayers experiencing “economic harm.” The IRS defines “economic harm” as a situation where someone is incapable of providing basic necessities for themselves, including housing, food, or transportation. Internal Revenue Service, The Taxpayer Advocate Service is Your Voice at the IRS!, available at Taxpayer Advocate Service!
The independence of TAS allows it to operate more effectively and impartially, scrutinizing IRS operations as they pertain to individuals experiencing economic harm, and serving as a vehicle for correcting IRS procedure when implementation fails to take account of the economic harms that many Americans experience. Furthermore, the service is free, which also allows it to effectively advocate on behalf of those that cannot afford a tax attorney to directly petition the IRS.
The system operates regionally; once a person qualifies for TAS assistance, a local advocate from a local taxpayer advocate office—there is at least one in every state—will be assigned to your case. Notably, businesses as well as individuals can qualify for TAS assistance.
If working in conjunction with an attorney, one may wish to authorize an attorney to discuss information about a case with TAS. If this is the case, submission of Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative is required. Alternatively, Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization can be used where the individual seeking assistance would like another individual to receive information about the case, but not necessarily represent you, such as a tax return attorney or another non-attorney tax professional. Internal Revenue Service, Contact a Local Taxpayer Advocate, available at https://www.irs.gov/uac/Contact-a-Local-Taxpayer-Advocate.
There are a number of TAS programs to choose from, including Case Advocacy (personalized assistance from a knowledgeable advocate), Systemic Advocacy (addressing problems that affects taxpayers in the aggregate), the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (takes suggestions for improving the tax revenue collection system as well as serving as a voice on behalf of taxpayers within the IRS) and Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (assisting qualifying individuals with various tax issues). Taxpayer Advocate, Other TAS Programs, available at Taxpayer Advocate Service
In short, there are a number of useful and effective mechanisms functioning within the IRS, but also retaining a significant degree of independence and discretion, all of which are designed to assist taxpayers that find themselves in dire financial straits, and need crucial assistance with their tax issues and concerns.
Please keep in mind the information and advice presented in this blog is not intended to be used as formal legal advice. Contact a tax professional for personalized tax advice pertaining to your specific situation. While we try and answer all parts of the question when we write our blogs, sometimes there may be some left unanswered. If you have any questions about your problems with the IRS, SBOE, FTB, or BOE, or tax law in general, call RJS Law at (619) 595-1655.