7 On Your Side
IRS has taxpayer advocacy service few know about
PLEASANTON, Calif. (KGO) -- When you get in trouble with the IRS, who are you going to call? Believe it or not, there's an office within the IRS assigned specifically to advocate for the taxpayer.
It's called the Taxpayer Advocate Service and the office claims it is able to get some sort of resolution in eight out of 10 cases brought to its attention. So 7 On Your Side decided to walk our way through it through the eyes of two taxpayers.
Tracy Quijada and her husband, John Valentini, of Pleasanton are having an unpleasant experience over a check she sent to the IRS.
"Both Bank of America and the IRS were saying, 'There's nothing we can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it. There's nothing we can do about it,'" said Quijada.
There was a check no one could figure out. It's an $8,419 check written to the IRS, but for an unknown reason the IRS only cashed it for $3,419.
"That's a good thing, correct. Except we know we owe the money to the IRS," said Valentini.
So Valentini and Quijada contacted Bank of America to ask them what's going on. Bank of America noticed the problem and took the remaining $5,000 out of the couple's account. The two thought that would be the end of their problem, but no such luck.
A couple of months later they received a delinquency notice from the IRS, informing them that they still owed the IRS $5,000.
"We sent them the paperwork back showing that we had paid it and that Bank of America had made the correction," said Quijadaa.
But weeks went by and Valentini and Quijada received another delinquency bill. Again they sent proof of payment and again the IRS responded by sending them another bill. This pattern would be repeated a third time, but this time the IRS threatened to put a lean on their home.
Bank of America told the couple the $5,000 they owe the IRS is sitting in a holding account waiting for the IRS to claim.
"The IRS says, 'Yeah we can see the money too. But the IRS can't take the money,' and Bank of America says they can't take the money back. So we're here holding the bag. Can you believe that? Is that crazy?" said Valentini.
The IRS tells the couple it can't help them and suggested they contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Kim Stewart is executive director for case advocacy at the Taxpayer Advocate Service.
"In a bureaucracy similar to the Internal Revenue Service where there are a lot of systems that are in place, sometimes the systems don't work well. And we're there to help you navigate when the systems don't do what they're designed to do," said Stewart.
Last year the Taxpayer Advocate Service handled 299,000 cases and says 81 percent received some sort of relief.
"Taxpayers may come in and they may ask for something that is outside the law. We would not be able to assist them with that because we operate within the confines of the law," said Stewart.
Valentini and Quijada begin working with the taxpayer advocate. They say things moved forward, but very slowly. So they called 7 On Your Side and we called the IRS.
Days later, the five $5,000 in the holding account was put back in Valentini and Quijada's account. Bank of America tells us by email: "The $5,000 was put back into their account on 04/12/2013 since the Federal Reserve Bank refused to collect the funds from us."
The couple has paid off the remainder of their balance. Valentini and Quijada are grateful to both the taxpayer advocate and 7 On Your Side.
"I think it's a valuable service. It's only because of them and you that things were finally moving along," said Quijada.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service is prohibited by federal law from talking specifically about any case, including Valentini and Quijada's case. If you need the advocates help, check out the website below.
Taxpayer Advocate Service website or call 1-877-777-4778
IRS, taxes, 7 on your side, michael finney
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