Section 5 of the Data Book provides information on the scope and composition of the IRS’ taxpayer assistance programs. The IRS assists taxpayers in meeting their Federal tax return filing and payment obligations in a variety of ways, such as through its telephone helpline, via the Internet, at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, and through volunteer-provided income tax assistance. The section also presents information on the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service and IRS Office of Appeals workload.
Highlights of the Data
- In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the IRS provided taxpayer assistance through almost 495.6 million visits to IRS.gov, assisted more than 63.2 million taxpayers through correspondence, its toll-free telephone helpline or at Taxpayer Assistance Centers, and had more than 278.6 million inquiries to the “Where’s My Refund” application (Table 19).
- The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS, protects taxpayers’ rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and recommends changes that will prevent the problems. Taxpayers may submit an application for assistance to TAS. In FY 2017, TAS received 167,336 new requests for assistance and closed 167,687 cases, including those received in a prior fiscal year (Table 20).
- The mission of Appeals is to resolve tax controversies without litigation, on a basis that is fair and impartial to both the taxpayer and the Federal Government. The Appeals Office considers cases that involve examination, collection, and penalty issues. Taxpayers who disagree with IRS findings in their cases may request an Appeals hearing. The local Appeals Office is separate from and independent of the IRS office that proposed the tax adjustment, collection action, or penalty. During FY 2017, the IRS Appeals Office received 103,574 new cases and closed 107,114 cases, including those received in a prior fiscal year (Table 21).