What Is the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)?

The term Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) refers to an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that reports to the National Taxpayer Advocate. The service represents the rights of individual and corporate taxpayers who experience financial difficulties. Taxpayers can get help from the Taxpayer Advocate Service when they've exhausted all other avenues of trying to settle their tax problems with the IRS. It also helps taxpayers who feel that the IRS isn't working the way it should.

Key Takeaways

  • The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that reports to the National Taxpayer Advocate.
  • The TAS represents the rights of taxpayers who experience financial difficulties.
  • Taxpayers can use the service to resolve issues with the IRS when they've exhausted all other avenues.
  • The service is free and confidential.

How the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Works

The Taxpayer Advocate Service assists both businesses and individual taxpayers with tax-related issues. It provides confidential and personalized service to taxpayers who need help resolving IRS problems that they have not been able to resolve through normal IRS avenues. The service is free, so there's no cost to taxpayers who use it.

The TAS has offices in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It employs a number of individuals, including case advocates who directly assist taxpayers to resolve their problems. To qualify, taxpayers must experience economic harm or significant cost, including fees for professional representation, and have experienced a delay of more than 30 days in resolving their tax issues.

Some of the most common issues the TAS assists taxpayers with include identity theft, extensions, problems paying taxes, incorrect tax returns, and choosing a tax preparer. The TAS often helps coordinate cases in which many different IRS units and steps have been involved. By doing so, the TAS helps ensure everyone does their part.

Beyond assisting individuals with tax problems, the TAS also works on big-picture issues. The agency reviews patterns in taxpayer issues to determine if an IRS process or procedure causes problems. If it is found to do so, the TAS recommends steps to resolve the problem. Each year, the National Taxpayer Advocate presents a report to Congress identifying some of the most common and serious problems facing taxpayers, such as tax-related identity and fraud, and outlines key areas in need of policy changes.

Although Taxpayer Advocate Service offices are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can still submit a query online to see if you can get help for your issue.

Special Considerations

The Taxpayer Advocate Service works independently of the IRS and protects the rights of taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). The bill states that taxpayers have the right to:

  • be informed, especially concerning IRS decisions and outcomes
  • quality service
  • pay no more than the correct amount of tax
  • challenge the IRS and be heard
  • appeal an IRS decision to an independent forum
  • finality in knowing timelines and deadlines
  • privacy
  • confidentiality
  • representation
  • a fair and just tax system

The TAS offers an online tax toolkit designed to educate taxpayers about their rights and responsibilities. The organization also identifies issues that cause burdens for taxpayers and brings them to the attention of the IRS, along with recommendations for legislative and administrative changes. IRS Publication 1546 provides more information about this service.