In March of this year, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson announced her retirement, which takes place at the end of this month. However, her exodus is preceded by one more valuable nugget of wisdom and guidance for U.S. taxpayers. Her office’s “IRS Subway Map” demonstrates the elaborate intricacies that may follow the innocent and naïve directive of, “just call the IRS.” It’s easier said than done!
Growing up in New York, I am all too familiar with a subway map. It is absolutely overwhelming to tourists or even new riders who are native New Yorkers. In fact, it can even be a psychological barrier to riding the subway at all. Uber counts on that! The map created by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), although intended to be helpful (and indeed, it is), may have the same effect on those looking to contact the IRS for answers. It’s not as simple as “just call the IRS.” It’s like being told to get the wicked witch’s broomstick, but not being told all you have to go through to get it.
The map is created as a series of decision trees and visually resembles a metropolitan subway map. It covers six areas of taxpayer interaction with the IRS:
Tax Return Preparation
Tax Return Processing
The map shows taxpayers how to navigate the tax system to get assistance with their tax needs. Accounting Today reports that the TAS team is planning to develop a fully interactive map in the year ahead. The digital road map will help taxpayers better navigate which steps to take when they receive an IRS letter or notice by entering the letter/notice number.
More importantly, it shows taxpayers who hire the services of tax advisors, like Drucker & Scaccetti, all the behind-the-scenes barriers and hoops that must be navigated and jumped through to quickly resolve IRS matters for clients. As tax experts, our advisors look at the map as confirmation of what they already knew: handling IRS inquiries without the help of a tax advisor can be daunting, confusing, time-consuming, and potentially costly.
The next time someone tells you that securing an answer is as easy as calling or contacting the IRS, take a look at this map. Yes, it tells you how to get from your question to your answer, but it also points out all the potential roadblocks in between. Try giving a tourist in Philadelphia a subway map and telling them to figure out how to get from Drexel’s main campus to some point in Millbrook, with no guidance other than the map. Or tell someone visiting New York for the first time to get from the South Street Seaport to East 204th Street in the Bronx. It’s hard. Following the TAS map is no different.
Let the experts handle your complex tax situations. It’s well worth it for peace of mind. Call on us, The Tax Warriors® at Drucker & Scaccetti, to help you navigate this map…or even do it for you!