How to Use the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service to Get Tax Help

Your Voice in the IRS

Tax forms, pencil and receipts, close-up
Elizabeth Simpson/Getty Images

You may be able to get tax help from the​ Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It is charged with assisting taxpayers who are experiencing economic difficulty and need help resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should.

You may be eligible for assistance if:

  • You are experiencing economic harm, financial difficulty, or significant cost (including fees for professional representation) for yourself, your family, or your business.
  • You or your business is facing the threat of an immediate adverse action.
  • You have experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve a tax issue or haven't been able to get a response from the IRS after repeated attempts at contacting them.
  • You have not received a response or resolution to your problem by the date promised by the IRS.

The service is free, confidential, tailored to meet taxpayers' needs, and available for businesses as well as individuals. There is at least one local taxpayer advocate in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Taxpayers can contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service by calling its toll-free line at 1-877-777-4778 or TTY/TTD 1-800-829-4059 to determine whether they are eligible for assistance. Taxpayers can also call or write to their local taxpayer advocate, whose phone number and address are listed in the local telephone directory and in Publication 1546 (.pdf), The Taxpayer Advocate Service of the IRS - How to Get Help With Unresolved Tax Problems.

What to Expect from a Taxpayer Advocate

If you qualify for the help of a taxpayer advocate, you will be assigned to one person. You'll get your advocate's contact information including name, phone number, and employee number. The service is confidential, required by law to provide secure and independent communications separate from other IRS offices. However, with your permission, they will disclose information to other IRS employees to help resolve your problems.

Your advocate will do an impartial review of your problem, giving your updates on their progress and timeframes for action. You can also expect to get advice on how you can prevent problems with your federal tax returns in the future.

Some taxpayer advocate offices provide video conferencing and virtual help, depending on the state.

Information You Will Need to Provide to the Taxpayer Advocate

Be ready to provide your full identification and contact information, including social security number or employee identification number, name, address, phone number. Organize your information on the problem you are having with your taxes, so your advocate will be able to understand it. This should include what steps you have taken to contact the IRS, which offices you contacted, and how you have already tried to resolve your problem.

You can also fill out IRS Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization and send those to your advocate. These authorize another person to discuss your tax issue or to receive information about your tax issue.

About the Taxpayer Advocate Service

The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, also called the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) was created by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on July 30, 1996. Through this legislation, the TAS replace the old IRS Office of the Ombudsman. Unlike the Ombudsman, the TAS is independent of the IRS. However, the TAS is overseen by the Taxpayer Advocate who is appointed by the Secretary of Treasury and reports directly to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Of the approximately 1,800 employees of the TAS, more than 1,400 work as Case Advocates, personally helping taxpayers in resolving their problems with the IRS. To qualify for personal assistance, taxpayers must show that they are experiencing economic harm or significant cost (including professional tax preparation fees), have experienced a delay of more than 30 days in getting their tax issue resolved by the IRS, or have failed to receive a response or resolution to the problem by the date the IRS promised.

Besides helping taxpayers, the TAS finds systemic problems within the IRS and its administrative processes and advises Congress on legislative changes that might help solve or otherwise lessen their effects on taxpayers. Each fiscal year, the TAS presents its recommendations in the National Taxpayer Advocate’s “Annual Report to Congress.”