By: Pete J. Medina

What can you do when regular channels of communication with the IRS break down? Contact the Problem Resolution Office in your district. The Problem Resolution Officer (PRO) who heads this office is the closest thing you have to a spokesperson at the IRS.



Each IRS district office and each service center has a PRO who reports directly to the district director or service center director. Addresses and phone numbers of PROs are listed in IRS publication 1320, Operation Link.

If you need to contact a PRO in a hurry, call your local IRS district office or service center.



You’ve paid your tax but the IRS keeps coming after you. The money must have been applied to the wrong account. Now you’re being charged penalties and interest. The IRS is about to seize your bank account…erroneously. This is the first you’ve heard that you owe any tax.

You can’t get anyone at the IRS to respond to a question you’ve asked.

Your refund is still missing after a number of months.

You’ve been charged penalties that you think you do not owe.

IRS computers made a mistake when they matched 1099 income with what you reported on your return.

IRS systems are fouled up. For instance, income-averaging isn’t being taken into account when the tax on lump-sum pension distributions is being calculated.



The PRO should be contacted only after you have tried, and failed, to correct the problem through normal IRS channels–through the district office or service center. Specific criteria:

Refund problems. You’ve waited 90 days after you filed your return. Then you’ve made two inquiries about the status of your refund and have not received an answer.

Questions. You’ve waited 45 days after asking the IRS for help or information and have not received a reponse by the date you were promised it. Or you’ve waited 45 days and the IRS hasn’t even acknowledged receipt of your letter.

IRS notices. You’ve received three or more notices from the IRS and have responded to at least one of them without results.

Other. You’ve suddenly become aware that normal channels of communication with the IRS have broken down. For instance, you are informed by your bank that it has
received an IRS notice of levy, and you have had no prior contact on this matter.



Once your case has been accepted by the PRO, it will be resolved quickly. Reason: The PRO has the authority of the district directors behind him. He/she has access to all departments of the IRS and can go anywhere he wants to get to the root of the problem.

The PRO will respond to you within two weeks. He’ll tell you that he has your case and that he’ll get back to you within 30 days.

The actual time it takes to solve a case depends on its complexity and its severity. Cases where the IRS is about to take drastic collection action-particularly a bank levy-or where a hardship is imposed on the taxpayer are handled first.

The PRO will stay in touch with you. If he can’t meet the 30-day deadline, he’ll tell you.



Taxpayers who face significant hardship because of IRS action against them can apply for immediate relief under the Taxpayer Assistance Order Program, which is administered by the PROs. Examples of significant hardship:

Imminent bankruptcy.
Failure to meet payroll.
Possible loss of employment.
Pending eviction.
Significant personal emergency.
Threat of a damaging credit rating resulting from an erroneous enforcement action.

To apply for a Taxpayer Assistance Order, fill out IRS Form 911 and file it with your local PRO. Note: Once again, be prepared to show that you first tried to resolve your problem through regular IRS channels. If you are really in a hurry, write to the PRO stating your problem and hardship, and he will fill out and file Form 911 for you.

After Form 911 is filed, the PRO will review your case and, if he sees fit, issue an order requiring the IRS to refrain from taking the action that would cause hardship. PROs must act on Form 911 applications within three days.


(The above material was published by the Tax Hoteline in New York.)

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