This article was last updated on March 5
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that can help people with tax problems they can’t resolve on their own. Every state has at least one local TAS center that is independent of the local IRS office. They are especially helpful for those who cannot afford to see an accountant (or CPA) or tax lawyer to help with issues around their tax return and refund delays. Here is an example from a reader in a recent tax season and how the TAS helped her.
Lisa had the following challenge with getting her refund released, what is she to do?
- 1/21 filed
- 1/23 accepted
- 1/25 1 bar WMR, tax topic 152, no codes, no messages of a letter
- 2/2 4464c letter sent out, do nothing wait 60 days, I received on 2/8
- 2/7 we’ve received your return and it’s still processing
- 2/11 Path Act message indicating issue was related to tax topic 152
- 2/16 message changed to; we’ve received your return and it’s being processed a refund date will be provided when available, amount returned, no tax topic 152
- 2/25 still no DDD
- No other letters have been mailed out, claimed both credits so I know they didn’t start processing until the 15th so I guess I still have time to receive a DDD before I get all worked up!
Here was the suggestion offered to Lisa to help address her missing refund dilemma:
What did the letter indicate they are reviewing? IRS can submit a 911 request on your behalf if you ask them to do so. I would also contact them as well and request them open you a case. IRS request goes directly to a tax advocate since they actually are IRS employees; they have access to the system to pull up your return and review. I used one and once I faxed everything I got my return in 2 weeks.
Possible Cause #1: Did you file with your last check stub or with your actually W-2 form? The issue is that the IRS may be reviewing your W2’s because the amount you reported does not match the W-2 they received from your employer. When they say do nothing; they can fix it themselves by contacting your employer for verification which could delay your return even further.
Second possible cause: Claims for tax credits you made on your return. IRS is questioning the legitimacy of the dependents you are claiming and will NOT release your refund until you actually fax them documentation to prove they resided with you at least 7 months last year (birth certificate, school records, lease, government assistance/w children names on it). Tax Advocate will give you a list of items to fax.
If you want them to release your refund you MUST contact an advocate ASAP, they will tell you exactly what is needed and you fax it to them, IRS has exactly 1 week to accept/reject; if all is good; they will re sequence you back into queue and you will have your refund within 1-2 weeks. NOTE: Unfortunately only the IRS or TAX ADVOCATE can tell you exactly what is going on and how long it might take. Every case is different. The magic word below is (ASK)….to be transferred…and let the advocate determine if your situation meets their criteria.
Your other option will be to contact IRS in the morning and request the following on your behalf. Per the IRS Manual:
If during a taxpayer contact it appears that the taxpayer is experiencing economic harm, seeking help in 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, and you can’t resolve the taxpayer’s issue the same day, complete Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance order), and refer the taxpayer to Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)
Lisa contacted a tax advocate (see numbers and IRS TAS information) and a few days later WMR was updated and her refund was received on February 3rd. So the Taxpayer Advocate Service does work. See more stories in the comments below and please share your experience (good or bad) with using a tax advocate.