Want to improve the IRS? SPEAK UP

Andrea Price, TAP member representing Ohio
Guest Column

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is comprised of civic-minded citizen volunteers from all walks of life representing each state, D.C., Puerto Rico and an international member (citizens living, working or doing business abroad). TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee whose mission is to listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers’ issues and make suggestions for improving the IRS service and customer satisfaction.

Everyone has something to say about taxes and the IRS. Please take a moment to give us your suggestions for TAP to consider by contacting one of the following:

TAP Ohio member: tapohioandreaprice@gmail.com

Call Toll-free at:1-888-912-1227

Website: www.improveirs.org

This month I would like to answer some frequently asked questions.

How do I apply to serve as a volunteer TAP member representing Ohio?

They are accepting applications for the 2022 – 2024. The TAP announcement has been posted to USAjobs. Applications to serve on the TAP will be accepted through May 14, 2021. They are seeking Members or Alternates in the following locations:

Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, International, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

 For additional information about the TAP application process, visit the website or call the toll-free number listed above and press 5 or email taxpayeradvocacypanel@gmail.com.

I heard that paying taxes is voluntary and not a law?

This notion comes from reading the IRS 1040 Form instructions booklet that the tax system is voluntary. The word voluntary refers to allowing taxpayers initially to determine the correct amount of tax and complete the appropriate returns, rather than have the government determined tax for them upfront. The requirement to file an income tax return is not voluntary and is clearly set forth in sections 6011(a) and 6072(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury regs. 1.6011-1(a). The courts have upheld this fact. Failure to file a tax return could subject the noncompliant individual to civil/and or criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Examples are Flora v. United States, United States v. Tedder, United States v Richards among others. Congress passes tax laws and requires taxpayers to comply. The IRS role is to help taxpayers with the tax law and collect taxes.

What is a Taxpayer Assistance Center?

It is your local IRS office.  In Toledo, it is located at Four Seagate Center, 433 N Summit St, 2nd Floor. The telephone number is 419-213-5165. To make an appointment call 844-545-5640.

I cannot pay my taxes due to financial hardship and I have tried working with the IRS, where can I get free help?

You can request a payment plan or contact your Local Taxpayer Advocate Office and they will help you free of charge. Ohio has two offices: one in Cleveland and One in Cincinnati. You may call toll-free at 1-877-777-4778 to make an appointment or fill out Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (found on irs.gov) and fax it or mail it.

The IRS is taking me to Tax Court, and I cannot afford a lawyer. Is there any free help?

If you are a low-income taxpayer who needs assistance in resolving a tax dispute with the IRS and cannot afford representation, you may qualify for help from a Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) that provides free or low-cost assistance. You must meet income poverty guidelines to qualify. For example: Family size 1: $32,200 or less: Family size 2: $43,500. Family size 3: $54,900 and family size 4: $66,250. For each additional person add $11,350. These are the ceiling amounts.

The local LITC is Toledo Tax Controversy Clinic. The telephone number is 419-684-8822. English and Arabic are spoken. In the State of Ohio, there are five additional LITC clinics. Columbus has two clinics. Akron, Cleveland and Cincinnati each have one clinic.

Is there a place where I can get my taxes done free?

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify. VITA has been offering free tax services for over 50 years for people who make $57,000 or less; persons with disabilities; and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. TCE is offered in partnership with AARP and offers free tax help for people 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirements related issues unique to seniors (no income limit). For locations near you, go to IRS.gov or for VITA locations call 1-800-906-9887 and for TCE locations call 1-888-227-7669.