IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service: What Expats Should Know

A notice from the IRS is not the kind of mail that anyone hopes to receive. From something simple like needing to resubmit a form to a more complex tax issue, resolving the matter as quickly as possible is likely what is on your mind. While this is feasible in most cases, instances do occur where your case may be at a standstill and you are not sure what else you can do. In that situation, a group known as the Taxpayer Advocate Service may just be whom you need to help you out.

What is the Taxpayer Advocate Service?

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS. Originally created in 1979 and known at that time as The Office of the Taxpayer Ombudsman, the TAS was established to take on the role of primary advocate for taxpayers when dealing with the IRS. Amendments to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in 1996 included the replacement of the Taxpayer Ombudsman with the Taxpayer Advocate Service. These changes were brought about as a means of making the body more independent from the IRS, and therefore better able to fully represent the interests of the taxpayers.

What is the Function of the TAS?

The function is twofold:

  • To be the “voice of the taxpayer” at the IRS, and to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and understands their rights; and
  • To propose administrative and legislative changes that help mitigate problems the TAS has identified with respect to IRS dealings with taxpayers. The TAS also compiles reports for submission to Congress regarding the most serious problems facing taxpayers during the year.

How Can They Help Me as a US Expat?

The aim of the TAS is to help taxpayers whose dealings with the IRS are causing financial difficulties. To be eligible for TAS assistance, your situation must be causing “significant hardship.” The TAS generally assists those that fall into one of the following categories:

  • A taxpayer is experiencing financial difficulty, emergency, or hardship, and the IRS needs to move much faster that it usually does under its normal procedures;
  • Many different IRS units and steps are involved, and the case needs a coordinator to make sure everyone does their part;
  • The taxpayer has tried to resolve a problem through the normal IRS channels but those channels have broken down; and
  • The taxpayer is presenting unique facts or issues and the IRS is applying a “one-size fits all” approach.

For those that qualify, the TAS will assist you free of charge. You will be allocated a representative who will assist you until the issues are resolved. Having one point of contact can remove some of the stress associated with dealing with the IRS and can help taxpayers who find themselves in challenging circumstances.

Want More Information?

Wondering if you should contact the TAS? Greenback experts can help you understand all of your options. Contact us today!

Free Guide: The 25 Things Every Expat Needs to Know About Taxes

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