The Taxpayer Advocate Service needs to do a better job of processing requests from taxpayers for relief from Internal Revenue Service enforcement actions, said a new report from the Treasury Department's watchdog group.

A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that taxpayers with economic burden cases did not always receive timely, accurate or complete service from the TAS, the independent organization whose mission is to help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS.

TIGTA found that over 50 percent of the 250 cases sampled had errors and delays that might have burdened taxpayers. In some instances, taxpayers might have had their rights or privacy violated because the TAS bypassed authorized representatives, made unauthorized disclosures to third parties, did not pay the proper interest on refunds or denied claims erroneously.

The significance of these errors was heightened by the nature of the taxpayer's situation. Taxpayers often asked for expedited assistance in cases of economic burden. In most of these cases, the taxpayer asked the TAS to stop an IRS enforcement action, such as garnishing wages, that was causing financial difficulties or hardship, or to expedite a process, such as the issuance of a refund from a tax return being audited.

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson agreed with five of the six recommendations in TIGTA's report and acknowledged the importance of processing economic burden cases accurately and in a timely manner.

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