The IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Now Accepting Fewer Cases

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is cutting down on its caseload.

The IRS said, “The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is designed to be a “safety net” for taxpayers who are experiencing problems with the IRS. However, ime, it must focus on cases where it can add the most value.”

TAS plans to focus on these four categories:

1. Where a taxpayer is experiencing some financial difficulty, emergency, or hardship, and the IRS needs to move much faster than it usually does (or even can) under its normal procedures. In those cases, time is of the essence. If the IRS doesn’t act quickly (for example, to remove a levy or release a lien), the taxpayer will experience even more financial harm.

2. Where many different IRS units and steps are involved, and the case needs a “coordinator” or “traffic cop” to make sure everyone does their part. TAS plays that role.

3. Where the taxpayer has tried to resolve a problem through normal IRS channels but those channels have broken down.

4. Where the taxpayer is presenting unique facts or issues (including legal issues), and the IRS is applying a “one size fits all” approach, isn’t listening to the taxpayer, or doesn’t recognize that it needs new guidance for those circumstances.

This is the second time in the past year that TAS has restricted its case acceptance criteria.

“ Last year, we assessed where our efforts have the greatest impact, and identified four types of issues in which the IRS seemed to get the right answer (though slowly),” said TAS. “Those cases involve the processing of original tax returns, amended returns, rejected and unpostable returns, and injured (but not innocent) spouse claims. We determined that TAS generally won’t accept cases involving these pure processing issues so we could focus on higher-impact problems. “However, there are many exceptions to this policy. If the taxpayer is suffering an economic burden, TAS will take the case. If the case involves other issues, as in the example below, TAS will take the case. If the taxpayer is referred by a congressional office, TAS will take the case. And if the taxpayer specifically requests and insists, TAS will take the case.”

TAS indicated that it would continue to work to the best of its ability to help tax preparers and taxpayers, but within limits. “We’ll continue striving to help tax professionals and their clients. But before you contact TAS, please remember that we’re a finite resource that Congress created not to substitute for regular IRS procedures but to help taxpayers who need special attention.”