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Taxpayer Advocate

Emergency Help: Taxpayer Assistance Orders

If the taxpayer qualifies for Significant Hardship, we will fill out IRS form 911 for them. 

Make sure the taxpayer honestly qualifies for Significant Hardship by looking at the requirements below before checking the "Qualifies for Hardship"  

Taxpayer advocates can quickly intervene on behalf of taxpayers to local IRS officers and IRS campuses. The advocates can order the IRS to cease from any action that causes a significant hardship by issuing a Taxpayer Assistance Order, or TAO. Or, they will try to work out a solution to your problem without actually issuing a formal TAO, especially in the following situations:

·         The IRS has seized or has threatened to seize your bank account, pension plan, or car. You need to pay rent or your family will be thrown out on the street, and you need that car to get to work.

·         Your paycheck was garnished by the IRS leaving you too little on which to survive. You are willing to enter into a reasonable payment plan if the wage garnishment is stopped.

What Constitutes a Significant Hardship to the IRS?

The IRS says that a significant hardship means not being able to “provide the necessities of life” for you or your dependents. (Publication 1546.) Whether or not a taxpayer advocate will give you emergency assistance depends on her view of the seriousness of your hardship. The IRS Problems Resolution Program Handbook advises taxpayer advocates as follows:Generally, when deciding the presence of a significant hardship, accept any application unless there is a clear reason not to do so. Any doubt should be resolved in the taxpayer’s favor. Most taxpayer advocates take this obligation seriously and really try to help, particularly if this is your first time in trouble with the IRS. You must show more than that the IRS has harmed you or is about to do so. For example, an IRS seizure is not, in and of itself, a significant hardship. 

The IRS’s seizure or other drastic action must jeopardize:

·         your ability to obtain or keep shelter, food, and clothing for you and your family

·         your transportation to work

·         your employment

·         your ability to get medical care for yourself or your family

·         your education

·         your credit rating, or

·         your ability to meet a business payroll or stay out of bankruptcy (the IRS is less likely to help a business than an individual, however).

Taxpayer advocates consider evidence of your being overwhelmed by the enormity of the tax situation. They are instructed to be sensitive to your emotional state, whether it is tears or talk of doing yourself in. Far be it from me to suggest that you have a nervous breakdown in front of a taxpayer advocate, but….

Under Internal Revenue Manual 1279 (10)(70), the IRS cannot hold against you the following:

·         the degree you were at fault in causing the hardship

·         your past history of IRS difficulties, if any

·         the type of tax that you owe—income, payroll, or property, and so on, or

·         the taxpayer advocate’s opinions and values—for instance, if part of your problem stems from a charitable donation you made to the Church of Snake Worshippers, the taxpayer advocate can’t consider her distaste for snakes in deciding whether to help you.