How to Deal With Difficult IRS Agents

The Internal Revenue Service is a large agency with thousands of employees. Many IRS agents are pleasant and helpful to work with, but some may be difficult. If you find it hard to deal with your agent, feel your case is being handled unfairly or find yourself in a financial crisis from aggressive collection actions, you can find relief through several methods. In many cases, it isn’t necessary to retain professional help, but you always have the right to representation if other methods don’t work for you.

Step 1

Call back at a different time. If you’re working with a difficult agent at one of the IRS call centers, end the conversation and call back in a few hours. When you call a toll-free number to reach the IRS, your call is routed to one of many call centers. Often, calls from a certain time of day are routed to the same center, so if you call again in few hours, you should get an agent at a different center. Management styles differ among locations, so you may have an easier time working with an agent from another call center. When an agent takes your call, he should state the city you’ve reached. If he doesn’t, go ahead and ask. In most cases, you won’t be able to get a manager on the phone, so it’s best to call back and deal with a different agent.

Step 2

Ask to speak with a manager. If you’re working with a specific IRS agent in a local office, it’s much easier to get to a supervisor. If you feel your case is being handled inappropriately or your agent isn’t listening to the facts of your case, take your concerns to his manager.

Step 3

File a Collection Appeal Request. You can appeal certain actions or threats an IRS agent imposes by filing this type of appeal, also called a CAP. CAPs can be used when the IRS agent levies your bank account or wages, or makes an oral or written threat to levy. In most cases, CAP appeals must be filed within 48 hours of the incident, and you must request a meeting with the agent’s manager first. If your issue isn’t resolved through the conference, tell the manager to send your request to an appeals office. You can also file a CAP appeal if the agent denies your legitimate request for a payment plan, or terminates an installment agreement that’s already been established. CAPs for these denials don’t require a managerial conference and must be filed within 30 days of the oral or written denial. To file a CAP, fill out IRS Form 9423 and fax or mail it to the IRS agent.

Step 4

File an alternate appeal. Aside from Collection Appeal Requests, you can also file a Collection Due Process appeal, or CDP. When you file this type of appeal, your case is moved to another office where you can discuss your case with an appeals officer. Many disputes are resolved through appeals, and this is a good way to get your file off the difficult agent’s desk. The most common CDP appeal is a Final Notice of Intent to Levy. The IRS must send a final notice before your bank account or wages can be levied. Final notices have a 1058, CP-90, CP-91, CP-297, CP-298 or LT-11 printed in one of the corners of the letter. Send Form 12153 to the IRS agent within 30 days from the date of your notice to get your case to the appeals office.

Step 5

Use the IRS Taxpayer Advocate service. This office exists to resolve taxpayer issues and disputes, and to make sure a taxpayer’s rights are protected. Advocates work differently from other IRS agents. They represent your best interests and ensure your case is handled fairly and appropriately, acting as a liaison between you and the IRS. You can request free assistance from the advocate’s office at any time. Download Form 911 from the website and send it to the closest advocate office listed in IRS Publication 1546. You should receive a phone call from your advocate within two or three business days after your 911 form is received.