Can The Taxpayer Advocate Service Help Me With My Irs Tax Bill Problems?


Can the Taxpayer Advocate Service Help me with my IRS Tax Bill Problems?

Dear Kim,

For several years I worked as a private contractor and unfortunately was not able to pay my tax debt to the IRS. The money I owe is substantial. I called the IRS and asked for a payment plan, but there has been a communication breakdown. I am receiving collection notices and threats of lawsuits. I am paralyzed by fear and don't know where to turn. I saw that there are agencies that can negotiate with the IRS, but I don't have the money to pay them. Is there anything else I can do to resolve the debt?

Thank you,

Dear Stephanie,

I am so glad that you have reached out for some guidance. A debt obligation to the Internal Revenue Service can be intimidating, but there is assistance available that does not require you to pay a fee. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS whose mission is to assist taxpayers in resolving their IRS debt issues. This service is free of charge and has many benefits.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service was established in 1979 with the purpose of  becoming the primary advocate for individuals and businesses with tax issues. In 1998, each state established a Local Taxpayer Advocacy office. As a first step, I suggest that you reach out to one of our certified credit counselors to review your current budget. It is important to have a clear picture of your current financial responsibilities and how much you are capable of contributing to a monthly payment plan.

Once you have spoken with your counselor, you should issue a request to the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate. This can be done by calling your local taxpayer advocate or by filing a Form 911 with the Taxpayer Advocacy Office. The Taxpayer Advocacy Service will review your case and look for the following: that  your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family, or your business; you face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action; you've tried repeatedly to contact the IRS, but no one has responded to you; or the IRS hasn't responded by the date promised. Once it is  determined that you qualify for the advocacy program, you will be assigned an advocate who will work with you until the issue is resolved.

There are many companies advertising on television and radio, offering to help people settle their debt with the IRS. These programs are unregulated and are often quite expensive. As outside third-party organizations, they also cannot guarantee that the IRS will comply with their request for settlement, and while the negotiation process is occurring, the IRS will continue its collection activity. I would strongly advise against using a for-profit debt settlement company. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is there to assist you and you can be confident in their ability to work within the guidelines of the IRS.

Best of Luck,

Kim headshot 3

Kim Cole is the Education Outreach Coordinator for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month's edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.

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