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Changes in Criteria for Taxpayer Advocate Service acceptance of Cases

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) changed its criteria for accepting individual taxpayer cases for assistance, reducing the instances in which it will accept cases. The TAS said it took this action so that it can focus on cases “where we can add the most value.”

In a notice to taxpayers and tax professionals, the TAS described exceptions to a ase acceptance policy it adopted last year. Generally, the TAS said, it accepts four types of cases:

  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.

Last year, TAS examined where their efforts have the greatest impact, and identified four types of issues in which the IRS seemed to get the right answer (though slowly). 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.

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.

If you are having Problems With the IRS, contact the Tax Lawyers at Marini & Associates, P.A. for a FREE Tax Consultation at or or Toll Free at 888-8TaxAid (888 882-9243).


Taxpayer Advocate Program Website

Journal of Accountancy

Read more at: Tax Times blog

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