A year ago, the first-time home buyer credit was still rather new, and the IRS began allowing taxpayers to amend their 2008 tax returns to receive the credit early. At that time, if documentation was in order, it took about six weeks to receive a check for the $8,000 credit.
That didn’t last long. Within months, the system became backlogged and those who filed to receive the credit grew frustrated. Some had to wait months before the IRS could even acknowledge that they qualified for the credit.
One option for speeding up this process — and for getting the IRS to notice you and actively work on any issue you need to resolve — is to work with a taxpayer advocate. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS designed to help individuals resolve problems with the IRS, particularly if the IRS owes the individual a refund or credit.
You must qualify in order to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Here are some of the qualifications:
- If the taxpayer is facing or is about to face economic harm.
- If the taxpayer will incur significant costs, like legal fees, if relief is not granted.
- If the taxpayer has experienced a delay of over 30 days without resolution.
- If the tax laws impede the taxpayer’s rights.
The easiest way to receive an advocate is to ask the IRS representative you are currently speaking with to fill out Form 911 on your behalf. You can complete the form on your own as well.
You can also call the service directly at 877-777-4778 to ensure you qualify, and they will have you complete Form 911 if you haven’t already. You will be directed to contact your state’s taxpayer advocate office, which you can find using this directory. Fax Form 911 to your state’s taxpayer advocate office or call them directly for more information.
With a taxpayer advocate on your side, your case will be prioritized and you should receive a resolution quicker than you would otherwise. In the best case scenario I’ve seen so far, the advocate was able to have the IRS release the taxpayer’s credit within three days, but the success rate will be determined by how your documentation supports your claim.
Here’s a comment by Liz from last November:
I contacted a tax advocate and he was extremely helpful, within a week he had my tax credit released (due to hardship) and within two weeks I had my credit with interest. I highly recommend to anyone going through a bad time to contact your advocate, it worked for me and hopefully you’ll get the same results.
If you ask the IRS to assign you an advocate, they have ten days to contact you. You might be better off by calling your state’s Taxpayer Advocate office directly. Not everyone has immediate success with a taxpayer advocate, but it should be better than dealing with the IRS, particularly during times in which the IRS staff is already stretched.
Updated June 23, 2016 and originally published May 19, 2010.