When people run into rough financial patches, one of the bills that often gets shuffled to the bottom of the stack is the one from the tax collector.
That's not a good idea, since the Internal Revenue Service has the authority to place a lien against taxpayers who owe. And Uncle Sam isn't shy about making use of this tax collection tool.
But for the last few years, the IRS also has been trying to show a little compassion.
As folks have had money trouble during this persistent economic downturn, the agency has implemented procedures to deal with tax liens and their eventual release. The IRS now allows for withdrawal of a lien when a taxpayer enters into a direct debit installment agreement.
The IRS with a heart will be on face-to-face display tomorrow when the agency opens the doors to dozens of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers, or TACs, across the country.
And this special July 16 event is intended for people who want to find out how they can make a fresh tax start and have IRS liens against them withdrawn.
Special hours for special problems: TACs usually are open during regular weekday business hours. But tomorrow, 74 IRS offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time in 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The IRS isn't making any appointments for the Saturday open house. Individual service will be provided on a first come, first served basis. And assistance for non-English speakers will be available.
Tracking down your TAC: Since most states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico will have at least one local IRS office open, it's easier for me to tell you which 16 states will not be opening a Taxpayer Assistance Center tomorrow. They are:
Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming
But if you live in D.C., P.R. or one of the other 34 states, you can find your participating TAC address at the IRS Saturday Service Locations Web page .
All problems welcomed: Although tomorrow's event is targeting folks who need help resolving tax liens, the IRS welcomes any taxpayers with any problems to the Centers.
"Sometimes taxpayers need one-on-one assistance with their tax issues," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in announcing tomorrow's event. "Our goal at these open houses is to provide that and help taxpayers move their issues toward resolution."
Taxpayers will be able, for example, to arrange or make account payments, ask about IRS letters, notices or levies on wages or bank accounts, request copies of tax returns or transcripts, and find answers to tax law questions.
At the last two similar TAC open houses, the IRS said its staff helped more than 16,000 taxpayers.
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