The health and safety of our employees, taxpayers and tax practitioners are the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s highest priorities. Despite the challenges presented by the National Emergency around the coronavirus (COVID-19), TAS is working hard to carry out its mission of helping taxpayers resolve their IRS tax problems and protecting taxpayer rights. While our taxpayers and employees are currently faced with uncertainty in their personal lives, we want to help ease the burden of unresolved tax matters and relieve hardships to the extent possible.
Just as others have needed to adjust how they presently conduct their work, so has the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Currently, TAS is operating in a virtual environment. We have suspended all face-to-face walk-in services until further notice, but TAS continues to serve taxpayers who need our help. We are virtually communicating with taxpayers by telephone, fax and mail as best as we can, given building closures and shelter-in-place limitations in parts of the country. Many of our employees, like their fellow citizens, are teleworking and are having to adjust to school closures, new care situations, and new work processes. We appreciate your patience and understanding as our employees strive to provide the best service possible as they adjust to these new work conditions.
Taxpayers who find themselves in hardship situations or with IRS tax problems they’ve been unable to resolve directly with the IRS may contact their local TAS office by phone. Telephone numbers to each of our offices can be found at taxpayeradocate.irs.gov/contact us. Currently, we are unable to answer calls to the IRS National Taxpayer Advocate’s Case Intake Line (877-777-4778), but again, we can be reached at the local phone numbers. Taxpayers may also visit our website for tax information on common issues and the latest developments regarding the coronavirus’s impacts to TAS’s operations.
As I mentioned in my last blog, we are actively participating in IRS planning discussions and are providing guidance to our employees to assist taxpayers while protecting the health and well-being of taxpayers and our employees.
I strongly support the recent decision to delay the filing season deadlines to file federal tax returns and make payments. We just want to make sure taxpayers who are entitled to refunds understand that filing as late as July 15 is an option — not a requirement. Taxpayers who are expecting refunds may still file their returns now and receive their refunds. For taxpayers who need the extra time to file and pay, the extended deadline will provide flexibility without the risk of incurring failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalties. Additionally, the IRS’s newly announced People First initiative is a strong message on the part of the IRS that it is trying to support taxpayers during this unique situation the country finds itself in.
This is an evolving situation, and the IRS — and TAS — are adjusting as we go along. We will continue to work with the IRS to ensure taxpayer needs and limitations are accommodated to the maximum extent possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to serve our taxpayers in this virtual environment through these unprecedented times and hope we all will be able to return to our regular ways of doing business soon.
I am pleased to announce that on Monday, March 30, Erin M. Collins will join us as the new National Taxpayer Advocate. Erin has more than 30 years of experience in tax law, spanning 15 years in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel and 20 years at KPMG, where she retired in 2019 as the Tax Managing Director in charge of KPMG’s tax controversy practice for the Western region. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate since August. I have been in touch with Erin as she prepares to join us, and I look forward to working with her as I return to my regular job as the Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate. I am confident that under Erin’s leadership, TAS’s primary mission will remain what it has always been — to advocate for each and every taxpayer, protect taxpayers’ rights, and be the taxpayers’ voice at the IRS.
Bridget T. Roberts
Acting National Taxpayer Advocate