Monday, February 21, 2011

The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) had 298,933 requests for Taxpayer Assistance Orders (TAOs) in 2010 and only issued 99. Section 7811 was enacted by Congress to give the NTA the authority to issue TAOs. Since the NTA provides minimal assistance (less than 1%) she is not complying with the 7811 statute to help taxpayers with tax liens and tax levies. The heading of § 7811 is “Taxpayer Assistance Orders”. Congress identifies TAOs as the primary task and function of the NTA. Under § 7811(a)(1)(a), the NTA is authorized to issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order if the NTA determines the taxpayer is suffering or about to suffer a significant hardship as the result of the manner in which the IRS is administering the tax law. The terms of a taxpayer assistance order may require the Service to release levied property, or to stop any action or refrain from taking any action with respect to the taxpayer regarding collection, the immediate assessment of deficiencies in bankruptcies and receiverships, the issuance of administrative summonses and the discovery of liability, or any other provision in the Internal Revenue Code that is specifically described by the Ombudsman in the order. See T.D. 8403 03/23/1992 §301.7811-1 Taxpayer Assistance Orders (a) (4) (ii) Term Defined. The term significant hardship means a serious privation caused or about to be caused to the taxpayer as the result of the particular manner in which the revenue laws are being administered by the Internal Revenue Service. Mere economic or personal inconvenience to the taxpayer does not constitute significant hardship. A TAO would require that the IRS not levy or file a tax lien if those actions would create a significant hardship. The definition of a “significant hardship” is a serious privation . The primary function and purpose of the NTA under § 7811 is to have the NTA issue a TAO to prevent the IRS from taking any collection action against a taxpayer if that action will create a “significant hardship.” Congress intended the NTA use TAOs to prevent the IRS from causing taxpayers any economic hardship. In effect, the NTA has refused to use the authority Congress intended her to use under the plain language of section 7811. The underutilized TAOs have the effect of reducing taxable revenue caused by closed businesses and lost jobs. In these instances the NTA does not stop clear IRS “misconduct” for abusive tax liens and abusive tax levies that, in each instance, cause job losses and business failure. For these reasons, the Office of the NTA can be abolished and replaced by legislative guidance to prevent hardship only when the IRS can establish that there would be no “hardship.” Hardship or lack of hardship can be established on the IRS financial statement Form433A for individuals or Form 433B for businesses. Closing the office of the NTA would eliminate 2,000 NTA employees and result in the closing of 65 local NTA offices.

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