Taxpayer Advocate Office (TAO) is a division of the IRS. Its independence from the collection division varies over the years. Nevertheless, the office is a friend of the taxpayer and can provide real assistance in certain circumstances.
One of the products of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights legislation is the ability of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate to stop IRS collection activity through a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO). Generally the Taxpayer Advocate office will not issue a TAO unless “significant hardship” can be shown.
Significant hardship means the IRS will put at risk your ability to provide the necessities of life for you or your dependants, such as you no longer have the ability to obtain food, shelter or clothing for you or your family. Significant hardship also means that your transportation to work or perhaps even your job is at risk. Medical emergencies usually constitute a significant hardship.
Usually, however, the Taxpayer Advocate office will attempt to fix the problem without issuing a TAO, especially if the problem is what the IRS considers to be an ordinary levy on wages or bank accounts. But the Taxpayer Advocate office can help even if it does not issue a TAO. If an employee of the IRS is refusing to follow applicable published administrative guidelines such as the Internal Revenue Manual, or the taxpayer is incurring significant costs while waiting for relief owed by the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocate office is supposed to help.
The Taxpayer Advocate Office will not help if you have been labeled as a tax protestor, you have not followed established IRS administrative procedures, or your problem is essentially that you disagree with what happened after following all of the IRS administrative procedures.
We know when and how to engage the Taxpayer Advocate Office. Call us for help.