October 12, 1998
IRS Unveils Toll-Free Number,
Prepares for Problem Solving Day
in New Round of Taxpayer Help
WASHINGTON - The Internal Revenue Service started
a new round of taxpayer help Thursday by unveiling a new toll-free telephone number
designed for people with long-standing tax problems.
The new hotline for help -- 877-777-4778 -- will be available for taxpayers who
haven't been able to promptly resolve problems through normal IRS channels. Callers will
reach trouble-shooters at the Taxpayer Advocate's Problem Resolution Program. For routine
questions, taxpayers should continue using the primary IRS information number at
"If people have unresolved problems, this new number will be the place
they can count on for help," National Taxpayer Advocate Val Oveson said.
The start of the new toll-free number coincides with Saturday's national
Problem Solving Day, another project being spearheaded by the Taxpayer Advocate's office.
At 40 locations around the country, IRS experts will gather for face-to-face meetings with
taxpayers to sort through tax problems.
"We want it to be easier for taxpayers to cut through the red tape,"
Oveson said. "We're here to help, whether it's on the phone or in person."
"Taxpayers should be able to iron out their problems with the IRS sooner,
not later," said Charles Rossotti, Commissioner of Internal Revenue. "This new
toll-free number and national Problem Solving Day form key pieces in our mission to
improve taxpayer service."
The new telephone number and Problem Solving Day are among the programs being
supervised by a strengthened Taxpayer Advocate's office, which received new powers under
the IRS restructuring bill approved this year by Congress and President Clinton. Oveson,
who became Taxpayer Advocate in September, said his office will be an independent voice
inside the IRS that champions the rights of taxpayers.
An early move by Oveson's office is creating a second step in the agency's
tollfree telephone system designed to handle hard-to-fix problems. In most cases, taxpayer
problems can be solved with one call to the IRS general help number at 800829-1040.
But if this first phone call -- or any other taxpayer contacts with the IRS --
fails to fix a problem, Oveson hopes a follow-up call to the new hotline at 877-777-4778
will take care of the remaining difficulties. People should call this new number if their
initial attempts to resolve tax problems with the IRS have been unsuccessful or
The call will put people in touch with the Problem Resolution Program. A
personal taxpayer advocate will be assigned to each person to help clear up problems and
ensure each case is given a complete, impartial review.
"We have people trained to handle these problems as quickly and as
effectively as possible," Oveson said. "If taxpayers have difficulties, we have
a system in place to help."
Many of the problems can be settled with one phone call. If not, callers are
sent to the appropriate office, and their taxpayer advocates will track the progress of
The new toll-free number will be available 16 hours a day (7 a.m.-1 1 p.m. ET),
Monday through Saturday in November and December before expanding to 24-hour service in
January for the start of tax- filing season. Similar around-the-clock service will be
available next year for the main IRS help line.
Calls to the new number will be handled primarily by IRS centers in Pittsburgh
and Richmond, Va., with assistance from Atlanta and Fresno, Calif.
Following last year's congressional hearings, IRS leaders decided to make the
Problem Solving Program more accessible and visible to taxpayers. Creating the new
toll-free number is part of that effort.
The addition of 877-777-4778 will be displayed prominently in upcoming tax
publications during the 1998 filing season.
"This new number will give people a direct pipeline to a place where they
can get help," Oveson said.
More Help During Saturday's National Problem Solving Day
Besides the new telephone number, the Taxpayer Advocate's office is putting the
finishing touches on Saturday's national Problem Solving Day, which will be held at 40
locations across the country. The special weekend session takes place a year after the IRS
embarked on the program, which has helped resolve more than 30,000 taxpayer problems.
Taxpayers will meet one-on-one with IRS experts. The set-up allows many
taxpayer problems to be worked out quickly because IRS administrators and specialists
gather in the same room to tackle the same questions. In some situations, issues that can
take weeks to resolve can be fixed in one meeting.
"Problem Solving Day makes it easier for taxpayers to work things
out," Oveson said. "We'll have the right people available with the ability and
the expertise to get things done."
Taxpayers interested in attending are encouraged to make reservations by
calling their local IRS office or the national toll-free number at 800-829-1040. Just
placing the call to the IRS can frequently clear up the question, making it unnecessary to
visit Problem Solving Day.
In future months, the IRS will host Problem Solving Days in other cities.
Saturday's Problem Solving Day Cities
State/City/Telephone Number Alaska
Anchorage (800) 829-1040.
Phoenix (602) 207-8635.
Laguna Niguel (949) 360-2178.
Los Angeles(213) 894-8852
Sacramento (510) 637-4359.
San Jose (408) 494-8285.
Hartford (860) 240-4156.
Fort Lauderdale (954) 423-7684.
Maitland (904) 232-1542.
Atlanta (404) 331-3485.
Honolulu (800) 829-1040.
Chicago (312) 886-0550.
Indianapolis (317) 226-5081.
New Orleans (504) 558-3019.
Baltimore (410) 962-9337.
Boston (617) 565-1550.
Detroit (313) 628-3670.
St. Paul (651) 290-3061.
Chesterfield (314) 539-6900.
Cherry Hill (973) 921-4377.
Paterson (973) 921-4377.
Brooklyn (718) 488-3601.
Buffalo (716) 551-4574.
Manhattan (212) 436-1013.
Greensboro (336) 378-2334.
Akron (513) 684-3094.
Oklahoma City (405) 297-4745.
Portland (503) 326-3295.
Pittsburgh (412) 281-0281.
Providence (401) 528-4317.
Richmond (804) 771-2292.
Nashville (615) 736-5423.
Austin (512) 499-5000.
Farmers Branch (972) 308-1019.
Fort Worth(817) 978-3477.
Houston (713) 209-4506.
Kennewick (800) 829-1040.
Charleston (804) 771-2292.
Milwaukee (414) 297-1260.
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