Dealing with the IRS one-on-one


Yes. Yes, you can deal with the IRS yourself. But should you deal with the IRS yourself? Should you deal with the IRS directly when you have a tax problem such an audit or back tax debt? Should you deal with the IRS when you have nothing to hide?  Should you deal with the IRS yourself when you just want to be fair and reasonable?


You are nothing but a string of couple numbers to the IRS

You are your tax identification number

There are people who write tax policy in Washington, DC who will never encounter the face-to-face impact of the tax laws they write. And the IRS Agents and Officers, the boots on the ground who implement those policies, have no say in setting tax policy. They are just there to execute the full force of the laws against you.


So do you see the problem? One side of the IRS — the side that makes the rules — is insulated from seeing the personal devastation those rules create, and the other side — the enforcers — are excused from causing any devastation as they "were just following orders."



So what do you think that makes you? "I feel like I'm just a number," is a common complaint we hear from people who have tried dealing with the IRS on their own. Well, guess what?  Internal Revenue Code section 6109(d) seems to agree with them:

“The social security account number issued to an individual shall… be used as the identifying number for such individual for purposes of as the identifying number for purposes of this title [the Internal Revenue Code, title 26 of the United States Code"


You feel like a number because the law says you are.


You are a "Realistic Collection Potential" as measured in dollars

You are more than just a tax identification number; so much more. You are also a source of revenue. Your labor and income exists, in part, under the laws of the United States to serve the IRS.


If you owe money, the IRS calculates how much they can squeeze out of you with a formula to determine your "Realistic Collection Potential," or RCP. The IRS wants to claim your RCP is as high as possible so they can get as much money as possible out of you. If they completely wipe you out in the process — there is little-lost sleep at the IRS. The enforcers were just following orders, and the ones who set policy just thought of you as dollar signs on a spreadsheet. 


The IRS cares about the IRS

The IRS represents the government. Not you. While many try to be as helpful as they can, Revenue Officers and Agents are not allowed to act or advise you of your best interests.


Even the Taxpayer Advocate Service is not really on your side. Don't believe me? Let's look at the relevant section of the Internal Revenue Manual regarding the Taxpayer Advocate Service: "The key characteristics of are independence, impartiality and confidentiality…. An advocate conducts an independent and impartial analysis of all information relevant to the taxpayer's problem." (IRM Sec.


Well, who wants their advocate to be impartial? If you were facing the death penalty for a crime you didn't commit, would you want your defense counsel impartial? No, you would want someone completely and fully on your side — not someone in the middle! You want someone who will advocate for nothing but you, you, you!


The IRS cannot follow its own rules

Over the years, I've seen the front-line employees at the IRS become so demoralized, so institutionalized, so dehumanized themselves, most of them dread their existence and merely work hard enough so that they won't be fired. They are playing defense with their superiors and co-workers and are just waiting for the time they can retire or find some other way to make a living.


What is the result? Details and rules are not followed. Routinely, simple issues are blown up. The IRS doesn't include all years into an installment agreement, the IRS mistakenly issues a lien, the IRS applies payment incorrectly, the IRS sends out threatening notices to people who don't actually owe them money.


Can I deal with the IRS myself?

Would you operate on your brain tumor yourself? No, of course not. Of course you would find the best surgeon you could find — because you understand that a brain tumor is a serious threat to your existence. The problem with IRS issues is that what may seem simple and straight-forward, may not be. Yet there are some things you can handle yourself. So what to do?


The best advice I give is to listen to your gut.