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The Tax Pro’s Post-Filing Advantage: IRS Practitioner Priority Service Line

Jim Buttonow, CPA, CITP

SVP Post-Filing Tax Services

Published on: September 09, 2021

With limited IRS resources, some days it is almost impossible for the average taxpayer to contact the IRS. Interrupted IRS operations and backlogs of IRS correspondence only add to the inability to get ahold of the IRS. 

On top of the backlog and demand for IRS services, taxpayers have limited options to quickly and easily interact with the IRS about their taxes:

  • Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC) are difficult to access: Walking into a TAC used to be an effective means to get help from the IRS. Now, with 358 TACs nationwide, this resource is not accessible for most. Taxpayers must make appointments by calling the IRS and possibly waiting for weeks for IRS availability.
  • Phone services provide limited help: IRS phone lines are hard to reach and are limited in their assistance. For example, the IRS won’t answer tax law related questions. Also, taxpayers often do not know the right questions to ask. If taxpayers can get through to a person on the 1-800-829-1040 line to speak about their account or IRS notice, they often speak to a generalist who is not specifically trained to address their circumstances. If the taxpayer has a complicated situation, like a penalty and the need for penalty abatement, the IRS representative will likely provide the same guidance that the taxpayer can get on the IRS website. Often, they transfer the call to another number or ask the taxpayer to write a letter to the notice address in hopes that it will help the taxpayer.
  • Transcripts are confusing to taxpayers: First, most taxpayers do not know what IRS transcripts are or what information they contain.  The taxpayer first has to learn how to get their transcripts. This leads to the second obstacle: taxpayers find it difficult to acquire their transcripts. About 38% of taxpayers can authenticate and get instant access to their online account.  Their online account and its Get Transcript tool will provide them access to their transcripts. If you cannot request a transcript online, you can order transcripts by mail or by phone and will receive the transcripts in 2-3 weeks. Lastly, when taxpayers get their transcripts, they cannot understand them. This is particularly true for IRS account transcripts which have IRS transaction codes that describe activity on their account for the form and year. This transcript is the most difficult of IRS transcripts to understand and may be difficult for the average taxpayer to interpret. Furthermore, the account transcript does not contain all activity on the account. For example, if the taxpayer had requested penalty abatement, the transcript may not show that the IRS received the request.

IRS statistics show that 70 million taxpayers interact with the IRS outside of filing a tax return. With limited IRS online service capabilities, what can taxpayers do when the IRS is difficult to reach and difficult to understand?

Tax Pros have special IRS access

The best bet may be to turn to a Tax Pro. Why? Two reasons. First, an experienced Tax Pro can ask the right questions of the IRS and is able to interpret transcripts and other IRS information correctly. The second reason (and probably most important in today’s environment) is that Tax Pros have a hotline directly into the IRS called the Practitioner Priority Service hotline or “PPS.”

PPS Access and Functions

PPS allows the Tax Pro with a client authorization (Form 2848 or 8821) to contact a knowledgeable IRS employee about the client. 

The tax pro can have access to the IRS on Monday-Friday, from 7:00AM to 7:00PM.  PPS can answer account related questions quickly.  PPS provides the Tax Pro access to information and transcripts for both individuals and businesses. PPS also provides a channel to speak directly to the IRS’s Automated Collection System employees, the CP2000 Automated Underreporter Unit, and tax examiners at the correspondence (mail) audit function. 

PPS can also provide the tax pro information about a taxpayer’s refund – and the circumstances why a refund has not been issued or delayed. PPS representatives are used to dealing with Tax Pros and streamlining certain needs such as requests for penalty abatement or payment plans. 

PPS can determine and route the Tax Pro to the proper unit if they cannot directly help.

Taxpayers- use a Tax Pro for post-filing help

Taxes are difficult enough already. Rules, procedures, and options when dealing with an IRS notice or issue are usually difficult to understand and interpret.  The best bet? Get a Tax Pro involved and have them get to the bottom of the issue. Taxpayers may save a lot of time, frustration.

Do you have additional questions?

For assistance creating a strategy to address your tax issue, visit Jackson Hewitt’s Tax Resolution Hub to see the various ways we can help you.

About the Author

Jim Buttonow, CPA, CITP, is the Senior Vice President for Post-Filing Tax Services at Jackson Hewitt. He’s been a leader in helping taxpayers and tax professionals resolve tax problems with the IRS, where he had worked for 19 years in various compliance-enforcement positions. Prior to his current role, Jim’s consulting practice focused on the areas of tax controversy and tax administration, which included leading product development on tax problem software for tax professionals, testifying before Congress, advocating for IRS transparency and efficiency, and proposing innovative large-scale solutions for taxpayers and tax professionals. Jim is also the author of Tax Problems and Solutions Handbook, a publication aimed at helping tax pros work more effectively in post-filing matters and resolving their clients’ most common tax problems.

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