Imagine, for a moment, that you owed the IRS $5,000 on your tax return last year. You filed your return and sent a check a few weeks later via USPS.
Then, 3 months later, they hadn’t cashed the check and were sending you new collection notices. Plus, they started tacking on new penalties.
So, you send another check, via certified mail, along with an explanation that you had already sent payment.
Now, a full 8 months later, the second check has also never been cashed, but the collection notices continue. And the penalties continue to accumulate.
What is going on?
Unfortunately, there are currently millions of people facing this type of nightmare scenario, including some Chattanooga people. Why? Because the IRS is still dealing with a backlog of mail dating back to 2020. As of just a few weeks ago, the IRS was still working on over 11 million unprocessed tax returns, plus had over 5 million pieces of unanswered mail.
The IRS not answering their mail is a really big deal. If you or a local Chattanooga friend is waiting for a refund that’s being held up, or accumulating penalties, it’s a serious problem for you (or your friend).
What’s even worse is that you can’t even get through to the IRS on the phone right now in order to get help with IRS problems. In 2020, the IRS managed to only answer 1 in 4 incoming phone calls. In 2021, the IRS managed to answer only 1 in 11 calls.
In fairness to the IRS, Congress placed a heavy burden on the agency, drastically increasing their workload by making them responsible for handling the bulk of stimulus measures over the last two years. But that obviously is of no solace to you if you’re one of these folks accumulating penalties for a tax debt that shouldn’t even exist.
So, what recourse is there?
Within the IRS, there is a “watchdog” organization called the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). The goal of TAS is to help taxpayers that are experiencing certain types of problems with the IRS when normal government processes just aren’t working the way they’re supposed to. In addition, TAS advises the IRS on how to do things better and also reports to Congress on what problems exist.
Needless to say, this annual report to Congress is a fairly lengthy one.
TAS can’t help with every IRS problem, however. They have nine specific categories of problems that they’re legally allowed to work on, as per their mandate from Congress. These nine categories can be lumped into three broad types of problems:
- You will face serious financial consequences because of what the IRS is doing (or not doing).
- The IRS is taking a ridiculously long time to fix your situation.
- Something the IRS is doing (or not doing) is violating your rights.
For example, if the IRS Collections division is about to start garnishing your wages because of a debt that you’ve already paid – because the left hand isn’t talking to the right – this might cause a serious financial problem for you. Not being able to feed your kids, pay for the heat, or pay the rent is obviously a serious problem.
In situations like this, the Taxpayer Advocate Service can intervene to help with IRS problems. What’s even better is that you don’t have to rely on reaching somebody at the blank void in some IRS call center for this help. Instead, there is a local case advocate right here in our own state that will be assigned to work on your case and intervene with the Collections division.
As with all things at the IRS, the TAS has its own forms, policies, and procedures for handling cases. And, as you might expect, they’re getting absolutely slammed right now with requests for help – many of which are outside the nine legal criteria for what they can handle, forcing them to turn down these cases. This obviously just creates additional delays and frustration for you.
Let us help you figure out whether or not the Taxpayer Advocate Service can help with your IRS problems or if perhaps another solution exists for you. Whether working with TAS or not, we know how to handle the bureaucracy and can help you obtain a resolution to your IRS problem.
To get started, let’s schedule a time to chat:
Because we want to help you get things in order and start the new year off right.
Your friendly Chattanooga tax advisor,
John and Wanda King