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Hello, my name is Nina Olson
and I am the National
Taxpayer Advocate.

You have already received
training about working
with the
Taxpayer Advocate Service
but I wanted t have
a moment to speak with you
all because you are
attending this training
because you´ve been
assigned to collect
potential tax debts
from taxpayers.

The IRS is required to assign these accounts
under the FAST Act,
which is the acronym
for Fixing America´s
Surface Transportation Act.

We can all wonder
what private debt collection
is doing in a transportation act but that is how
Congress passes bills.

And so, when this important
law was enacted,
it authorized you
as the employees
of private collection agencies, to undertake
an enormous responsibility
so its very important
that you understand
that in addition to the law that authorizes you
to collect taxes on behalf
of the Internal Revenue Service and the federal government, that there are also other
equally important laws
that you all have
to consider as you
go about performing your job.

So, as you probably know
by now there are many,
many protections of taxpayers, what we would
call taxpayer rights
that have been enacted and are scattered throughout the Internal
Revenue Code,
namely the laws that
pertain to the tax system.

And you may know,
or may not know,
that since 2007, I had advocated to Congress
that it adopt
a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a simple statement
so that taxpayers knew
what right they had and were able to say wait, don´t I have the right
to an administrative appeal,
because so many of these
rights were scattered
throughout the code people
didn´t know them.

But a sort of list of 10 rights that sets out in
very common parlance language
what your rights are would
really help taxpayers be able
to avail themselves
of their rights.

If you don´t know
what your rights are,
then you´ll never
ask about them
and you´ll never avail yourself.

Well, in 2014, I was able to persuade the IRS to adopt the Taxpayer
Bill of Rights
that I had recommended
and in 2015,
about the same time the FAST Act was being enacted
by Congress,
Congress actually amended
the Internal Revenue Code
to require the Commissioner to ensure that IRS
employees are familiar
with and act in accord with the Taxpayer
Bill of Rights.

The very rights that I had
recommended since 2007,
the IRS and Congress
should adopt and enact.

Since you all are actually
acting as agents
of the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Government,
these rights,
these protections for taxpayers
also apply to you.

So, that´s what I want
to talk to you about today
and according to both the law
and the contract
that you´re operating under
that your employer
has entered into with the IRS, you all as employees
have to be familiar
with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and you´re required to make sure
that these rights are respected.

Now I also want to say this because as we have a chat
about this,
don´t just think about you
can think both about your job
as private collection agency
but this information
is very important for you
to have because you
all are taxpayers too
and I´m sure there are members
of your family
who are taxpayers, and you have
friends who are taxpayers,
and you have colleagues
who are taxpayers
and these rights apply to you, and your friends,
and your colleagues,
and your family members as well.

And so, you´re getting
a really great training
that just in a basic
conversation with a coworker
or with a family member and you find out that
they´ve got a tax problem,
you now know about the rights that they have as they go
about engaging with the IRS
so this is actually good for you just as taxpayers as well
as employees.

So, just a brief discussion before I get into
the actual specific rights
about how a case
might end up in the hands
of a private collection agency because this is very
important to understand
as you´re engaging
with taxpayers.

In many instances, the taxpayers may not have heard
from the IRS
for quite some time.

It may be that the IRS sent lots and lots of letters to them but the IRS actually has an 11% undeliverable mail rate and that´s the mail
that´s returned to us
by the Post Office.

There´s a whole bunch more mail
that just ends up
because the forwarding
address has expired,
that it just ends up
as I like to say
on radiators in apartment buildings in New York
underneath the mailboxes
and stuff like that
where we don´t know
that the mail
hasn´t been delivered,
we just know we sent something.

So, it´s entirely possible
that taxpayers
haven´t received a whole series
of our notices
and particularly
for lower income taxpayers
that´s very true
because they move around a lot
and also
because of the fact
that we´ve been through
an economic downturn,
a real serious crisis
economically a lot
of people moved from one place to another looking for jobs,
or staying with family members,
or staying with friends and they didn´t always update
their mailing addresses
with the IRS
or even with the Post Office.

So, it may be that
you´re calling the
and they have no idea that
there´s a tax debt that exists.

It´s very interesting because particularly
for the low income,
we did a survey one year where we found that 25%
of the taxpayers
who were actually audited
for a program called the Earned
Income Tax Credit that they were actually audited, we knew they were audited, that 25% of them didn´t know that the letter
we sent out to them saying
you´re under audit
please respond,
actually was telling them
they were under audit.

Now, some of that is maybe
they didn´t have
a high literacy level,
some of it is because maybe they
didn´t speak English very well,
but some of it
is because the IRS
doesn´t do a very good job
writing letters
and making them explanatory
and clear.

So, there´s just all of that
has happened before this case
even got to you and the reason why I´m talking about this
is because it may be,
it may very well
be that this taxpayer
doesn´t owe the debt at all, that you´re trying
to collect a debt
that if a taxpayer can get
an audit reconsideration,
that debt may go away
and you need to be aware
that that may be a possibility
when you call them.

And the same time, the IRS
may not know that the reason
why the taxpayer
hasn´t been paying is
because they are experiencing
a financial hardship
meaning that he/she
does not have the income
to pay
the reasonable living expenses,
the basic living expenses
that you need to survive.

We´ve long since
gotten rid of debtor prisons
so we don´t ask people
to basically sell
everything they have
in order to pay a tax debt.

And it may be that they were
once starting to pay
but as I´ve noted,
we´ve had economic hardships,
people have gotten
really behind,
they´ve been unemployed
for a long period of time
so their situation
may have changed.

You may be looking
at a very high tax liability
but this person
may have been making money,
quite a nice salary for a while but for the last three
or four years this person
has been out of work
and is underemployed,
is taking whatever job
he/she can
but it´s just paying bills and you won´t know that
until you talk to the taxpayer.

So I think that´s very important
and then the other thing
is the taxpayers
are just plain afraid.

They´re afraid of the IRS
and they will be afraid of you.

The IRS has awesome
collection powers,
you only have a fraction
of those powers,
the ability to put them in
a modest installment agreement,
but people are very afraid
and what will happen to them
so you need
to keep all of that in mind.

So having said that let´s chat about the Taxpayer
Bill of Rights.

Okay, the first right in the list of the Taxpayer
Bill of Rights,
and I may bounce around
a little bit here
but the first right,
the one that started it off
and why I thought
this was the number one
right that you started with when I was drafting
the Taxpayer Bill of Rights
is the right to be informed and this is the official
IRS explanation.

It´s been worked out
between myself and the IRS.

Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do
to comply with the tax laws.

They are entitled to clear
explanations of the law
and IRS procedures
in all tax forms,
instructions, publications, notices and correspondence.

They have the right
to be informed
of IRS decisions
about their accounts
and to receive clear
explanations of the outcomes.

Now, how does that
apply to you?

Well actually, everything I´m going to talk about
from this point on
and all the other rights relate to this right to be informed because if people aren´t
told about their rights,
if they aren´t told about
what´s going to happen to them,
if the letter coming
to them explaining to them
that their case
is going to go out
to a private collection agency
isn´t clear,
that´s going to influence
what happens
when you contact the taxpayer.

And when you talk to taxpayer, if you don´t make clear
what you´re able to do
for them and with them, and notice how I´m framing this, and how you can work with them to enable them to make payments and get into compliance and telling them
the opportunities
that they have to avail
themselves of their rights,
then you have actually not
followed the very first
right which is the right
to be informed.

Now, I´m going to jump
from the first to the last,
the alpha to the omega,
the A to the Z.

Namely, the last right
of the ten
is the right to a fair and just tax system and this
is a very important one.

It has several components and I´m going to read
you the whole explanation
and then I´m going to sort of
talk a little
about the components.

The explanation is taxpayers
have the right to expect
the tax system to consider facts
and circumstances
that might affect
their underlying liabilities,
their ability to pay, that goes to the work
that you´re doing,
or the ability to
provide information timely.

Taxpayers have the right
to receive assistance
from the Taxpayer
Advocate Service
if they are experiencing
financial difficulty
or if the IRS has not
resolved their tax issues
properly and timely
through its normal channels.

So let me start off
and first talk about
the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

You´ve already had the training, you understand
that Congress created
the Taxpayer Advocate Service
for several purposes
but one of them
is to help taxpayers
solve their problems
with the IRS.

Congress also specifically said that my authority as the National
Taxpayer Advocate
reaches to the private
collection agencies
and their employees.

Namely, I can order
private collection agency
employees to do something,
not do something,
stop doing something
you´re about to do.

That´s in the law.

That was changed
the first time
we had private collection
agency legislation.

So, whenever a taxpayer
requests to work with TASK,
under the right to have a fair and just tax system,
and under the contract,
and under all sorts of rules including
the Internal Revenue code
that established my office, you are required
to refer the case
back to the Taxpayer
Advocate Service.

Just as importantly you,
just like IRS employees,
are required to
identify situations
in which it is appropriate to make referrals
of taxpayers to TASK
even if the taxpayer
hasn´t specifically
asked about it, okay?

They may not know
that TASK exists
but the policy and procedures guide
sets out the conditions
that require TASK referral, that require you all
to refer the cases to TASK.

And of course, an example
is where the taxpayer is saying
if I enter in an
installment agreement,
I can´t pay my medical expenses, I can´t do this,
or the IRS is also levying on me
and this is creating
economic hardship
so there it´s not anything
that you are doing
it´s just that the taxpayer
has talked to you
and said this is creating
economic harm to me
and you are required then to refer
that taxpayer to TASK.

The procedures will be laid out in your policy
and procedure guide.

So what things might signal
to you that a taxpayer
is experiencing
economic hardship
or is about to suffer
economic harm?

Let me just give you
a few examples
but these are just examples.

There are many other ways in which the taxpayer
will signal to you
that there´s a problem.

The taxpayer may have been
recently laid off
or is currently unemployed, the taxpayer´s only income
is Social Security,
especially if
it´s disability income
because that means somebody is
really living on limited means
because folks who are
receiving disability
can basically
only make $1,000
or a little bit
over $1,000 a month
and then they lose
their disability.

The taxpayer has
experienced a life
even that effects
his/her finances.

It could be a divorce, it could be that elderly parents
have moved into the house,
it could be that there´s
a death of a spouse.

That means that there´s just
a whole bunch of upheaval
there and economic instability and uncertainty.

The taxpayer has incurred
a large expense
such as a large medical bill, had a surgery
for himself, herself,
his children, his parents, it could be anybody really, his own spouse.

The taxpayer has recently
had his car stolen,
has a break in
or very importantly
we keep reading
about natural disasters,
tornadoes, hurricanes, and sometimes
the effect of a tornado
or a hurricane can last
for years, and years, and years.

Folks have
not completely recovered
from Hurricane Katrina
or Hurricane Sandy
and some of the tornadoes
have required massive
rebuilding and so
it´s not in the news
but if somebody says
something about that,
that´s what you need
to be sensitive to.

And then lastly, although this is not
an all inclusive list,
the taxpayer could have been
a victim of an unscrupulous
tax return preparer where the preparer
basically absconded,
altered the taxpayer´s
return without any knowledge
and stole an inflated refund and now the taxpayer
has a tax debt
that the preparer
actually created.

The IRS ha procedures
for fixing that.

You don´t have those procedures.

That´s something
that you want to get,
that´s a hardship and that´s where you want
to get the taxpayer
into the hands
of the Taxpayer Advocate Service
so we can help that taxpayer
and straighten it out.

Now some of this also
goes to the right to privacy
and so as I told you,
I´m bounding around
but all of these rights
really are inter-related
and again,
this laundry list of things,
what you´re doing
is also exercising
the right to be informed because you´re
informing the taxpayer
about the taxpayer
advocate service
and what they need to do
to get into our hands
even as you´re furthering
the right to a fair
and just tax system.

So again, the right to privacy.

Taxpayers have the right
to expect that
any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action
will comply with the law
and be no more intrusive
than necessary,
and will respect
all due process rights,
including search
and seizure protections
and a collection due process hearing where applicable.

Now, what´s important
about this right to privacy,
it actually comes
from the fourth amendment
which protected us from unreasonable
searches and seizures.

The founders of our country
thought that was very important
because during the years before the Declaration
of Independence
and we were colonies,
they were subject
to all sorts
of searches and seizures
without any cause whatsoever so they put that
in our Constitution.

The point about this is, this phrase
that collection action
or any IRS action or inquiry will be no more
intrusive than necessary,
that actually comes
from another statute
relating to some collection
due process
hearings that the IRS has to
give taxpayers the right to.

That´s very important in your
communication with taxpayers.

When you´re asking them
about their circumstances,
when you´re trying to find out
how much they can afford to pay,
you´re making
very intrusive inquiries
and therefore your inquires should be no more intrusive than is necessary than for you
to get the information
that you need in order
to be able to get them
into some kind of
compliance arrangement
or to determine if they have a hardship and they need to be sent to
the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

So, as an employee of
a private collection agency,
you can offer taxpayers
installment agreements
but if the amount
the taxpayer can pay
will not fully pay
that liability
within the maximum period
for the installment agreement
that you can offer them, then you´re required
to inform the taxpayer
that the IRS offers
other collection alternatives.

See, this is where
the inform comes in too
but it´s also
the right to privacy.

So for example,
there are such things
as offers and compromise.

There is such a stat where you can actually
settle the tax debt
for your reasonable collection potential over
a period of years
rather than the actual amount
of the debt itself.

There´s also currently
not collectible
because you have
an economic hardship
where you can´t take
into account your basic
living expenses
and there are also things
like partial pay
installment agreements.

Now, you don´t need to be
an expert about all this
but you do need to recognize
that the taxpayer has the right
to have their circumstances
be considered
and that the collection action
that you put into them
is no more intrusive
than necessary.

And the reason for that
is that if you put them
in a collection
installment agreement
where they really can´t keep up, then they´re going
to default on it
and you wont get paid and that looks bad
for your company
if you end up
with a whole bunch
of defaulted
installment agreements.

It means you didn´t
listen to the taxpayer,
you didn´t really ferret out what their facts
and circumstances
were and you did
a collection action
that was more intrusive
than was necessary.

All right, the right
to quality service.

This is one that people
laugh about a lot
because our phone service
has been so poor at the IRS
but believe it or not, taxpayers have the right
to receive prompt,
courteous and professional
in their dealings
with the IRS,
to be spoken to in a way
they can clearly understand,
to receive clear and easily understandable communication
from the IRS
and to have a way
to file complaints
about inadequate service.

For those people who can get
through to the IRS,
they have polite and courteous service
for the most part
and that´s important
for you too,
that when you talk to taxpayers
you really do have to live up
to this right
to quality service.

And also, be sensitive to whether the person
has language barriers,
whether they can
really understand.

I know you all have
separate training,
but I´ve spent my life representing taxpayers
both inside
and outside the IRS and I worked very
much with taxpayers
who came from other countries and very often
with low income taxpayers.

That was part of my job, representing low
income taxpayers
at a low income taxpayer clinic, which we´ll talk about
a little bit later.

One of the things that I used
to do is get the taxpayer,
once I said something,
once I was trying to say
these are the steps
you need to take,
I would get them
to repeat after me
what they were supposed to do.

Repeat back to me.

Do you understand
what I´m saying?

They´ll all say yes and you
say well, can you rephrase?

Can you repeat to me
what we´ve agreed
you´re going to do?

And that way, you can be sure
that they understand it
and if not you´ve got to try it
in a different way.

You didn´t get
through to the taxpayer
and that goes to
quality service.

So again you also have to, just as IRS employees the IRS has to have a way for taxpayers to file a complaint
about service
where its been inadequate, you all have to inform taxpayers
of the process
for filing a complaint if they feel they
have been mistreated.

This is true about IRS
employees too by the way,
they have to do that.

If taxpayers don´t want
to work with a PCA
for one reason or another, the PCA must immediately, the taxpayers must immediately
be given information
on how to work with the IRS directly to resolve
their account.

And generally,
the taxpayer has to be told
that they can say it orally but a simple letter to the PCA saying they want to work with
the IRS is all that´s required.

We´re not asking for a treatise, we´re not asking
for a formal letter,
we´re not asking for a pleading.

It can be two sentences, I don´t want to work with
the private collection agency,
I want to work with the IRS
thank you very much,
is enough to get them
into the hands of the IRS.

That is quality service.

You also have the obligation
to inform them of that,
that´s the right to be informed.

Taxpayers who request
that their case be sent to TASK
must be immediately
provided with information
on how to contact TASK,
we´ve talked about that.

You may even, as we work on the technology
we´re working on this,
you may even be able
to transfer the caller
directly to the Taxpayer
Advocate Service
so that we can then conduct an intake
on that taxpayer´s case,
which would be
really easy for you
but we´re working on that
technological challenge.

Delinquent returns.

Taxpayers may have a filing
requirement that it appears,
and I put emphasis
on appearance,
it appears that it
has not been met.

Now, the PCA policies and procedures guide
discusses situations
in which the taxpayer says he/she has already filed
or that he/she
does not have enough
information to file.

It´s also possible
that the taxpayer
isn´t required to file but the IRS for some reason
thinks they do.

We have seen many cases where the IRS
is actually in error
and that´s part
of the work that we do.

So don´t just blow it off if the taxpayer says
I´m not required to file.

They may be right, and that´s something
where you either need
to get the taxpayer back to IRS or you need to get the taxpayer into the hands
of the Taxpayer Advocate Service
so a determination can be made.

Your policy and procedures
guide will outline that
but remember that there
are three possibilities.

And remember that
sometimes people,
when they don´t file it´s not because they haven´t wanted
to comply with the law.

Some life altering event,
and I´ll share a personal story,
my father who is now
deceased had a heart attack
and he paid his tax actually but he did not file
his return so the IRS
had no idea about his expenses.

He had more gross income than what the taxes looked
like it would cover
and it was maybe five years before he actually was able
to get back on his feet
and get caught up on
all of his financial activities
and be able to file
with the IRS.

And unfortunately, by the time
he filed with the IRS
he was actually eligible
for a refund
and he lost his refund because
too much time had gone by.

But don´t assume that
somebody is a bad actor
just because they haven´t
filed and again,
going back to how many
times people move around,
don´t assume that
because the IRS
has sent all these letters
out that the taxpayer
is trying to actively avoid.

They may have moved long since and they haven´t gotten
any of these letters.

Part of what you need to do
to deliver quality service
is to find out what´s really
going on with the taxpayer.

Okay, now we have the right
to pay no more
than the correct amount of tax and that´s a very simple one
and I think
we can all appreciate that one.

Taxpayers have the right
to pay only the amount
of tax legally due and to have the IRS apply
all tax payments properly.

Now, a little piece of that is that there are provisions
under the law,
some of these rights
that have been scattered
throughout the
Internal Revenue Code
I talked about earlier, there is an ability
to get penalty
and interest abatement and a lot of times the bulk of the tax bill is penalties.

Well, let´s just take my father
for a minute.

Let´s say he was incapacitated because of a heart attack and he couldn´t make
his payments for many years
because he wasn´t
really earning a lot
and the penalties
for late payment
and for non-filing are accruing, and accruing,
and accruing
but there is something
called reasonable cause.

Medical hardship
and medical disability
is actually a reason to abate the failure
to pay penalty
and the failure to file penalty.

And actually, sometimes
you can get that penalty,
if that penalty can be abated it might mean
that the dollar amount,
the taxpayer can´t pay it
all in the amount of time
that you´ve got for entering
into an installment agreement
but if the penalty
can get abated,
then it might come back
within your jurisdiction
so that the dollar amount is within the installment agreement
authority that you have.

But you don´t have the ability
to abate the penalty,
that has to go back to the IRS and you need
to inform the taxpayer
how to go about requesting
a penalty abatement
and then you have a new amount
that you´re now looking at
and maybe that´s
a resolvable tax debt
even with a payment in full because the tax liability itself
may be so low.

And once you get rid
of the penalty,
you get rid of some
of the interest too
because interest accrues
on penalties.

Actually, interest accrues
on IRS debt
and penalties daily, not like your mortgage
once a month
or your credit
card once a month,
but daily so interest
is accruing on interest,
is accruing on penalties, is accruing on the tax daily and that´s why you get
such big tax bills
when they started out
being so low.

Okay now, the right to challenge the IRS´ position and be heard.

This is actually
my favorite right
and when we did focus groups
with people around the country
when we were testing
the language,
this was the one that
most people said to us
I didn´t know I could do that and so this is something that would be
very helpful for you
to talk to your friends
and family and colleagues about,
to let them know that they have
the right to challenge.

If the IRS is saying
you owe this,
they may be wrong and you have
the right to the IRS
to listen to you and be heard
and here is the description.

Taxpayers have the right
to raise objections
and provide
additional documentation
in response to formal IRS
actions or proposed actions,
to expect that the IRS will consider their
timely objections
and documentation
promptly and fairly,
and to receive a response if the IRS does not agree
with their position.

Now, that is
basically a statement
of due process, that the IRS is
proposing an action
or is saying something to you, you have the right to be told
what that action is,
that´s the right to be informed
and you have the right to object
to that action
and raise considerations
and have them
be considered.

And what´s so important
about this right
is it says you have the right
not only to challenge it,
but also be heard
and saying be heard means
that not only do
you have a right
but the IRS has an obligation.

The IRS has an obligation
to listen as do you
as the representatives
of the IRS.

You have the obligation
to listen to what the taxpayer
is saying and listen
very carefully.

Taxpayer may not be
completely articulate.

They may not know what
information you need to have.

That´s where you inform them but you also need
to listen to the taxpayer
and consider where
things need to be sent.

And so, although you don´t
have the authority
to adjust the taxpayer´s
may be saying to you
I don´t owe this liability and if they´re saying that it
is actually very likely that
that may be the case.

Again, remember what I said
in the beginning of this,
that we have an 11% recorded undeliverable mail rate so they may never have
gotten the notice
that assessed the tax
in the first place
or that taxpayers
move around a lot
so they may never
have gotten it.

And there are tools
that the taxpayer
can ask to clear up that matter so if the taxpayer is saying
I don´t believe I owe it,
you don´t have the authority
to adjust the tax
but that´s something
where you would send it
back tot he IRS per the policies and procedures guide
in the sense
of telling the taxpayer how they can go
about challenging,
challenging the liability
of the IRS position
and if they say I´ve done that before then you can get them
to the Taxpayer Advocate Service
because that´s where there´s
been a systemic breakdown.

TASK not only
works with economic harm
but we work with systemic burden where the taxpayers tried to go through
the normal procedures
and the normal procedures
haven´t worked
so just by listening, you can provide service
to the taxpayer,
quality service which taxpayers
have the right to.

Okay, now the right
to appeal a decision,
an IRS decision
to an independent forum.

Now again, there are going
to be instances even
after you´re handling a case where the taxpayer
may get a levy action
and where that is,
is sometimes
in some of the automated
levy situations that we do.

And when that happens taxpayers
have appeal rights
with respect
to that levy
and so as a private
collection agency employee,
you can remind taxpayers
to review
that levy notice they receive which contains instructions
on how to appeal.

And there are times
where the taxpayer
will have even additional rights for appeal
and your policy
and procedures guide
will go through some of them,
that´s what all of this
training has been for you.

But taxpayers have
the right to a fair
and impartial administrative appeal of most
IRS decisions.

That´s what
the language says.

They also have the right
to take their cases to court
and it may be that
by some weird circumstances,
you may have a taxpayer
who could find a way
to get to court
through a refund forum
and that will stop
your activity on the case.

Okay now, the right to finality.

This is one that
a lot of people
have some confusion about but the point is that taxpayers
have the right
to know the maximum amount
of time
they have to challenge
the IRS´ position
as well as the maximum amount
of time the IRS
has to audit
a particular tax year
or to collect
on a particular tax.

Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS
has finished an audit.

Now, I know that
there´s not a lot
about finality on audit
but again,
that might be that the taxpayer is saying I don´t believe
I owe this
and they may still have time
to challenge this debt.

As well, they have time
to challenge
the collection of it.

They may say that the collection
statute expiration date
has already expired.

Now, the IRS will
give you that date
for the account it assigns and that period
is usually 10 years
after the assessment of tax but the taxpayer may have agreed to extend
that period of time
or there may be other events that have caused it
to be extended.

On the other hand,
IRS systems
sometimes improperly
extend the debt.

We have had several cases where the IRS has actually
taken collection action
that was actually unlawful because the collection
statute expiration date
had already done and gone and those actions
had to be reversed.

Collection CSED´s are very
complicated to calculate
and therefore you should
give the taxpayer,
if they feel it
erroneously calculated,
you should get the taxpayer
to call the IRS.

You should also
give them information
about the Taxpayer
Advocate Service.

Again, to verify this CSED, the taxpayer should
contact the IRS,
should ask for a transcript, they can now go online
and get a transcript
if they create
an online account
because that will show
certain actions
and then it may
be that the IRS
has actually miscalculated
the tax, the CSED.

And so, that´s very important.

All right now, we´ve already covered
the right to privacy
so now we´re going to come
to the right to confidentiality
and this is very
important and taxpayers
may have some
concerns about this
because now not only is
their tax information
in the hands of the IRS, but it´s also in the hands
of agents of the IRS,
namely the private
collection agencies
and I know
from talking to taxpayers
that they´re very concerned
about the confidentiality
and the protection
of their tax information
because that is so importantly,
particularly in this day
of identity theft.

This is the description,
taxpayers have the right
to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized
by the taxpayer or by law.

Taxpayers have the right
to expect the IRS to investigate
and take appropriate action against its employees, return preparers and others
which would include contractors,
who wrongfully use or disclose
taxpayer return information.

Now, I know that you have
had a lot of training
about those very rights, those statutory rights.

Those are in the law, all the confidentiality rules, and it´s also in your agreement.

And you know that you
are required
to authenticate
the taxpayer´s identity
but taxpayer information
can be discussed
only after the taxpayer´s
identity has been authenticated
so that you don´t become a vehicle of identity
theft yourself
and the need to protect
taxpayer data is critical,
is absolutely critical.

If the IRS is perceived, and private collection agencies are perceived as to contributing to identity theft
or leaking taxpayer data,
that will put an end
to this program
and it will also result
in some pretty heavy sanctions
for whomever did that.

And certainly,
I don´t need to tell you
in this day of identity theft, and some of you may have been
victims of identity theft,
if a taxpayer says that they are
a victim of identity theft
and they don´t believe
that they owe this tax,
then you need to tell them
how to get back
into the hands of the IRS to get themselves worked
by the Identity Theft Unit
and have the liability
because it could be a liability that arose as a result
of an identity theft return.

It´s not even
the return of the taxpayer
and the taxpayer
may not owe any money
and so that´s just
another example
where you´re doing
the authentication
and then your listening right, your listening will really
help the taxpayer and help you.

They will perceive
you as helpful.

Okay, now this is
very important one,
taxpayers have the right
to retain representation.

Taxpayers have the right
to retain an authorized
representative of their choice
to represent them
in their dealings
with the IRS
and by extension, you all.

So if a taxpayer says
I have a lawyer
or I want my lawyer
to talk to you,
then you´re going
to have to cease
and desist
talking to the taxpayer
and you´re going to have
to talk to the representative.

Now, the only people
that you can talk
to really are attorneys, certified public accountants,
and enrolled agents.

No one else under the rules
of our programs
are authorized to speak
on behalf of the taxpayer
unless of course
the taxpayer is a minor
and you may have some instances where the taxpayer
is incapacitated
and there is a Power
of Attorney,
a family member or someone who has been
appointed and stands
in the shoes of the taxpayer.

Those are complicated cases and you will have
procedures to work out
but if the taxpayer says
they want representation
you´re required to work
with that representative.

More importantly, there´s
a second half of this provision.

Taxpayers have
the right to be told
that if they cannot afford
to hire a representative,
they may be eligible
for assistance
from a Low
Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Now, I mentioned that before, that I personally had founded
one of the very first Low
Income Taxpayer Clinics
in the country
and the very first
that was organized
as an independent nonprofit
that recruited attorneys,
CPA´s and enrolled agents to represent low
income taxpayers free of charge.

If you have any acquaintances
or family members
who are low income and have a tax problem,
you should go on the
website and look up Low
Income Taxpayer Clinics.

You can look at the taxpayeradvocateservice.
and find the names and addresses of the Low
Income Taxpayer Clinics
and point out to your friends,
and colleagues,
and family members
where they are
so they can get the assistance that they need but that´s true
for the very taxpayers
that you´re talking to.

If you hear someone flustered,
you can tell them you can go to the Taxpayer
Advocate Service website
and look up the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic
in your state
because we basically
have one for each state.

They sometimes change
from one year to other
because we make grants
to give them
to help these programs
represent these taxpayers
but really helps
and that´s something
that taxpayers
have the right to
and you have the obligation
to inform them of these things.

So last we come back to where
we pretty much started
which is the right to a fair and just tax system.

So what that really means
as we started out was,
you have to take
into account all of the facts
and circumstance that might affect
their underlying liabilities
and their ability to pay.

And that´s very important
because again,
there may be other debts
that are overriding.

The taxpayer may have debts
that have priority over the IRS.

They may be under a court
order about divorce.

Their circumstances
as I noted before,
they may be caring
for a sick cause.

Under the circumstances there may be,
as I discussed before,
reasonable cause
penalty abatement
which is mentioned in the policy
and procedures guide.

So you all are prohibited
from threatening
or taking any collection action.

You can´t
threaten to take a lien,
or a levy, or a seizure.

That´s not in your authority and you are prohibited
from doing that.

Taxpayers assigned to the PCA´s
may already however,
have liens filed against them and they may say
I can´t make payments,
it´s harming my ability
to pay you.

This lien is drying up
all my access to credit,
it´s making it
more expensive for me
to rent an apartment,
to get insurance,
to do all sort of things.

An IRS tax lien
on the credit report
is a death-knell.

It´s worse than bankruptcy
and so one of the tools
that the IRS has,
one of those laws
that are a statutory
protection of taxpayers
is that the IRS
can withdraw a lien
which will eliminate it
from the credit report
an that would enable
the taxpayer
to be able to earn
income or borrow money
and be able to pay you.

So if a taxpayer says there´s this IRS lien
on my account
and it´s just wreaking havoc
with my finances,
you can´t withdraw that lien but you can tell the taxpayer how to get in touch with the IRS or that might be an instance where you would refer
the taxpayer
to the Taxpayer Advocate Service so we can work with the IRS
and get the lien withdrawn.

So, the last thing I want to say to you is this little point.

You are representing
the federal government here.

Your interaction with taxpayers
may be the first time
in a really long time anybody has talked to this taxpayer
about their tax debt.

You may be the first human being
that they have talked to
because everything the IRS did was automated
and letters and stuff
like that so your interaction with the taxpayer will influence how they perceive
the government and the IRS.

So, how you react and relate
to that taxpayer,
and how helpful you are, and how you comply with
all of these 10 rights
that taxpayers have, will determine whether
the taxpayer thinks
that you and by
extension the IRS,
and by extension the federal
government is helpful.

Does it listen to
the taxpayer´s concerns,
or is it impatient, or is it coercive,
or is it a bully?

So you have in your hands,
in your hands,
how the taxpayer is going
to view the government.

It´s very rare to have
that kind of influence
and every phone call and every interaction you make is an opportunity to interact with that taxpayer,
to educate that taxpayer,
to help them feel more
confident that the IRS
and the government
respects their rights
and that you respect
their rights.

And so, I´ll close with this, if you were a taxpayer
and you had a tax liability,
and your account
were in the hands
of a private collection agency, how would you like
to be handled?

How would you like people
to talk to you?

And if you think, I would
never have that circumstance,
I will just say to you
I have been in tax practice
since 1975, and I have seen people
who never thought
that they would have
a tax liability
and they ended up with one.

I gave you the example
of my father.

I can give you so many examples.

You could be in those shoes, or a family member could be
in those shoes or a colleague
or a member
of your church,
synagogue, mosque or anybody, or a member
of your softball team.

Anybody could be
on those shoes and so
how would you want them treated?

And when you think about that,
that´s what you should do.

Thank you very much, good luck.

I appreciate what you´re doing.

Have a good day.