Within the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service), there is a separate, independently run "agency within an agency" called the Taxpayer Advocate Service which was created to assist people who are struggling to pay their taxes or who are in need of advocacy with regard to paying their taxes. This article contains tips and suggestions about how to utilize the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

For information about the Taxpayer Advocate Service, visit the main website of the United States government (USA.gov), then click on the link that says "Money and Taxes." From there click on the link that says "Taxes - Federal and State," and then click on the link that reads "Questions about Taxes: Help from The IRS." This will bring you to a webpage on the main IRS website entitled "Help with Tax Questions." In the left hand column of this webpage you will see a link called "Taxpayer Advocate Service." Click on this link. You will then be directed to an online list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Taxpayer Advocacy Service. Read through all of these questions and answers to learn all that you can about the program.

As indicated on the web page, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is part of the IRS, but it operates independently of the IRS because it is there to support and advocate for taxpayers who are struggling to pay their taxes. If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may want to contact a staff person at the Taxpayer Advocate Service to present your information and see if there is any way they can help advocate for you.

If is helpful for you to be aware that the Taxpayer Advocate Service is run by Nina Olson. Her official title is National Taxpayer Advocate. All of the fifty states also have their own designated Taxpayer Advocates. All of these advocates have a solid understanding of the financial problems faced by taxpayers. They empathize with your plight, and they want to help you solve your tax problems. In other words, know that they are on your side and if you have a legitimate problem, they want to do everything in their power to help you.

You should also know that these advocates have two main goals: first, to help individual taxpayers solve their specific tax payment problems if they have not been able reach a satisfactory resolution with the IRS on their own; and second, to bring specific tax problems to the attention of the IRS and the legislature, and even to propose legislation that would make changes in the tax laws when necessary.

Note that any struggling taxpayer is allowed, and actually strongly encouraged, to utilize the Taxpayer Advocacy Service to help resolve their tax problems with the IRS. On the program's Frequently Asked Questions web page, you will see a link that reads: "Contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service." Click on this link for very clear and specific instructions about how to make initial contact. Once you have made initial contact, you will be able to start working with your advocate to resolve your specific tax dispute or issue with the IRS.

It is also well worth mentioning that the Taxpayer Advocacy Service provides Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (also referred to as LITCs) to help low income taxpayers resolve specific disputes with the IRS. To learn more about these clinics, simply click on the link on the program's FAQs page that reads: "Low Income Taxpayer Clinics"