Taxpayer Advocate Service News
  1. TAS Tax Tip: Avoid scams offering Economic Impact Payments

    We know everyone is eager to get more information on the recent Coronavirus Tax Relief and to receive an Economic Impact Payment, if they qualify.

    While it’s tempting, don’t fall victim to scams that promise to get you payments faster in exchange for your personal information or for a fee – they can’t do that. Don’t believe scammers pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), representatives from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) or other government organizations either.

    The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers to request any personal or financial information for the Economic Impact Payment through:

    • Email, 
    • Text messages, or
    • Social media sites, groups or forums

    Be cautious of anyone asking you to verify your personal identification and/or banking information in order to receive the Economic Impact Payment. Scammers are savvy and may attempt to use social engineering schemes to get your information.

    Spread the word. Tell your friends, relatives and neighbors - do not to respond to any requests pretending to be associated with Coronavirus Tax Relief or Economic Impact Payments!

    FAKE WEBSITES

    There are many scammers that use websites designed to look almost identical to a federal agency website but they will not have the right url or website address. Make sure you are looking at a website that starts with “https://” and ends with “.gov”. Otherwise they are likely not a valid U.S. government site. If you receive an email, text message, web link or other communication from an unknown source or sender, avoid clicking on the link or opening the attachments.

    OFFICIAL IRS AND TAXPAYER ADVOCATE SERVICE WEBSITES

    The official source of information for the Ecomonic Impact Payments is www.irs.gov/coronavirus. You can also visit the Taxpayer Advocate’s coronavirus site for updated guidance on tax relief available in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    CHARITABLE DONATIONS

    If you choose to donate to a charitable organization, use the IRS Tax Exempt Organization search tool to verify an organization’s federal tax status before donating.

    REPORT SCAMS

    Report any scam-related and fraudulent contacts, phone numbers and websites to phishing@irs.gov. Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on IRS.gov.

    TAXPAYER ADVOCATE SERVICE ASSISTANCE

    Know that TAS is open to virtually serve taxpayers who find themselves in hardship situations or dealing with IRS tax problems they’ve been unable to resolve directly with the IRS. Please understand though, that TAS cannot currently help you get any Economic Impact Payments before the IRS releases them.

    We appreciate your patience and understanding as we serve our taxpayers in this virtual environment. This is an evolving situation, and the IRS — and TAS — are adjusting as we go along.

    Read more about the kinds of problems TAS handles and how we may be able to assist you with yours.

    IRS RESOURCES

    Note: As more information becomes available, the IRS will post that information to IRS.gov.

    TAS RESOURCES

  2. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tax Updates

    Coronavirus Tax Updates Graphic


    GET HELP

    The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) remains commited to assisting taxpayers and championing their taxpayer rights. TAS will continue to offer help to qualified taxpayers by telephone. Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/contact-us and use the digital map to find a local telephone number in your area.

    Check this page frequently for tax-related changes as new information is made available through the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS. You can also visit the IRS special Coronavirus (COVID-19) page on IRS.gov for the latest tax information related to the Coronavirus  (COVID-19).

    REFUNDS

    If you are expecting a refund on the amount of taxes you paid last year, you should file your return as soon as possible. If you have questions about your refund after you've filed, visit our refund information hub for guidance on checking your refund status.

    GOVERNMENT STIMULUS LEGISLATION

    As soon as guidance on the law’s tax-related provisions is available, it will be posted on IRS.gov. Thank you for your patience as we work through all of the necessary processes it takes to not only implement the new law, but also to speak about it.

    Analysis of this complex and lengthy legislation can be time consuming but is a necessary first step. We must be certain about how the provisions of law will be implemented before public information can be shared, even when the media or commercial tax services provide their interpretation of what they believe is correct.

    We know everyone is anxious to receive information relating to this new legislation, but please be patient and be assured we are all working hard to get it out as quickly as possible.

    Calling TAS or the IRS will not get refunds or credits issued any faster. In fact, it will only serve to tie up phone lines for those who may have to contact us for other assistance.

    FEDERAL TAX FILING AND PAYMENT DEADLINE EXTENDED

    The Treasury Department and the IRS announced new tax relief because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. As a result, any taxpayer with a Federal income tax payment or Federal income tax return due April 15, 2020, is entitled to relief from tax filing and payment deadlines. The due date for filing Federal income tax returns and making Federal income tax payments due April 15, 2020, is automatically postponed to July 15, 2020. The relief does not apply to any payment or deposit of any other type of Federal tax, or the filing of any Federal information return that is due April 15, 2020. The relief applies to all taxpayers. You do not have to file extensions forms (Form 4868 or Form 7004) in order to file Federal income tax returns or pay Federal income tax by July 15, 2020, and you do not need to contact the IRS to qualify. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-20-18.pdf 

    TAX FILING

    Free tax return filing options are available to help you file your return timely. You can also download essential tax forms you’ll need to submit to the IRS.

    TAX BALANCE DUE

    If you are expecting to have a federal tax balance due and cannot pay it in full by the new July 15th due date, pay as much as you can, as interest, penalties, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on July 16, 2020. Take a look at the tax payment options available to help you plan ahead.

    COMPLIANCE

    Starting approximately April 1, and running through July 15 initially, the IRS will postpone certain compliance actions under a new program entitled “IRS People First Initiative,” in an effort to help taxpayers people facing tax challenges in light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The changes include issues ranging from postponing certain payments related to Installment Agreements and Offers in Compromise to collection procedures and limiting certain enforcement actions.

    The new IRS People First Initiative outlines the IRS’s temporary policies in the following key tax areas:

    • Earned Income Tax Credit and Wage Verification Reviews
    • Non-Filers
    • Audits
    • Appeals
    • Field Collection Actions
    • Liens and Levies
    • Passport Certifications to the State Department
    • Private Debt Collection
    • Statute of Limitations
    • Practitioner Priority Service

    Visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus for more detailed guidance from the IRS.

    OTHER TOPICS

    Visit the TAS tax tips and Get Help center for help with common tax questions.

    IRS RESOURCES

  3. TAS welcomes new National Taxpayer Advocate, Erin M. Collins

     

    The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is pleased to announce that Erin M. Collins has joined the Taxpayer Advocate today as the new National Taxpayer Advocate. Erin has more than 35 years of experience in tax law. She began her career as an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel, where she worked for nearly 15 years in the Los Angeles District Counsel office. She then spent 20 years at KPMG, where she was managing director of the firm’s tax controversy practice for the Western region.

    More recently, Erin represented several taxpayers on a pro bono basis in resolving disputes with the IRS. Throughout her career, she has been fortunate to work with many professional and hardworking IRS and TAS employees across the country. As a tax practitioner, she had enormous respect for TAS’s role as the “voice of the taxpayer.”

    Erin understands the critical work that TAS performs daily and that this is an ever-changing, turbulent, and unsettling time to assume leadership of the TAS organization. She recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic has turned lives and communities upside down and is having a devastating impact on the U.S. economy and the ability of U.S. taxpayers to comply with their tax obligations. She believes TAS’s role is more important today than ever and therefore, assumed her role ahead of schedule. She stated, “I want to assure you it will always be my first and foremost priority to protect the health and safety of taxpayers and employees as we continue to address the challenges presented by this National Emergency.”

    Erin plans to start out by gaining a better understanding of TAS’s current and emerging challenges, especially challenges presented by the National Emergency and how it is impacting and will continue to affect TAS’s and IRS’s work for the foreseeable future.

    Erin recently said, “U.S. taxpayers are very fortunate to have a team of advocates always there to serve them and protect their rights. I am deeply grateful to have been selected for this position to lead the Taxpayer Advocate Service, a great advocacy organization with a mission to serve taxpayers and protect taxpayer rights. And, I am excited about working with TAS’s great leadership team, as well Congressional offices, the tax practitioner community, the Low Income Taxpayer Clinics and the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel.”

  4. NTA Blog: TAS is open and ready to virtually serve taxpayers

    Subscribe to the NTA’s Blog and receive updates on the latest blog posts from Acting National Taxpayer Advocate Bridget T. Roberts. Additional blogs can be found at www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/blog.

    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

    The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate. The Acting National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.

  5. TAS Tax Tip: Where is my refund?

     
    If you’ve already filed your tax return in the last month or so, but haven’t gotten your refund yet, you may be wondering: Where is my refund?

    The IRS, in general, processes refunds in approximately 21 days, if you filed electronically, and six weeks if you filed a paper tax return. However, there are several things that could delay or stop you from receiving the refund, in full or in part. Below are some of the main reasons you may not have received your refund yet, and tools to help you find out the status of it, along with self-help information to assist you should you need it.

    Reasons you may not have your refund yet

    Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC): If you claimed the EITC or the ACTC, and there are no errors, you should receive your refund, if you selected Direct Deposit around the first week of March. However, if there are problems with any of the information related to the claim, your refund will be held, and you will be asked to supply more information. If you receive an IRS letter or notice about your claim, reply immediately following the steps outlined and using the contact information provided.

    Identity Theft: Tax-related identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information to commit tax fraud. The IRS has specific programming to review tax returns to identify instances of possible identity theft, which can also cause a delay in issuing a refund.

    • If this is the case, you should receive IRS letter 5071c requesting you to contact the IRS Identity Verification telephone number provided in the letter or take other steps. The right ones for you are based on what’s happening with your tax account, so follow the instructions in the correspondence.

    • You can also see our Identity Theft page or for more information. See our Tax tip for keeping safe on social media at tax time too.

    Errors on or Incomplete Tax Returns: Your refund may be delayed for something as simple as a forgotten signature or because there is some other type of error, including mathematical errors or if the income reported by you doesn’t match what your employer or other third-party payers have reported. If this is the case, the IRS will send correspondence either asking for more information or letting you know your tax return was adjusted and why.

    Refund used to pay other debts: Sometimes you or your spouse may owe a tax debt to the IRS or a debt to other agencies, including child support or student loans. If this is the case, your refund may be offset (applied to pay that debt). You should receive an IRS notice if this occurs.

    • Follow the steps on our Refund Offset page if you have questions or disagree with the amount offset.

    • If you filed a joint tax return, you may be entitled to part or all the refund offset if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt. To request your part of the tax refund, follow the steps on our Injured Spouse page.

    Lost or Stolen Refund: If one of the IRS refund tracking applications, mentioned below, indicates the IRS issued your refund, but you haven’t received it, your refund may have been lost, stolen, misplaced, or directed to a different bank account if the direct deposit numbers entered on your tax return were incorrect. So, if it appears the refund was issued, but you still haven’t received it, you can ask the IRS to do a refund trace. This is the process the IRS uses to track a lost, stolen, or misplaced refund check or to verify a financial institution received a direct deposit.

    Options for tracking your refund

    • Where’s My Refund tool: You can use this to track the status of your refund. It does have some limitations.

    • IRS2Go app: If you want to use your mobile device, you can download the IRS2Go app to check your refund status.

    • The IRS’s toll-free Refund Hotline: 1-800-829-1954. The IRS recommends using one of the above applications or searching IRS.gov for information before calling.

    If the above options are not giving you the information you need, start on our I don't have my refund or our Locating a Refund page for step-by-step actions you can take.

    Myths about refunds 

    • Ordering a Tax Transcript: Ordering a tax transcript will not help you find out when you’ll get your refund, nor will it expedite the refund process.

    • Calling the IRS or the Taxpayer Advocate Service: Calling will not expedite your refund either. Phone and walk-in representatives can only research the status of your refund after the time frames for regular processing, mentioned above, have passed. You should call, however, if you received correspondence from the IRS or if one of the refund applications says specifically to do that.

    Visit the IRS’s frequently asked questions page on refunds for more information.

    IRS refund status tools and information

    Taxpayer Advocate Service Resources

    Follow the Taxpayer Advocate Service across social media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.