Tax & Business Insights

Welcome to the IRS Campus at the University of H _ _ _

Volume 18 Issue 2 --  March/April 2006

Recently, the IRS has, apparently without humor, taken to calling its facilities “campuses.”  The dictionary definition of a campus is: the grounds of a university, college, or school, or . . . a grassy area.  To date we have seen nothing resembling a collegiate campus or collegial attitude in dealing with the IRS campuses. Incidentally, the campus referred to in the title of this newsletter is not the University of Hawaii , but a place far warmer.

One of the delightful new IRS campuses has been created in Buffalo, New York . In order to matriculate in this facility a taxpayer must owe over $100,000 in tax and to reach this IRS campus one must be initiated by a very long wait on the phone repeatedly listening to a bad version of Mozart=s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. 

The first thing you are told as a practitioner trying to discuss a taxpayer matter involving over $100,000 is to contact the Buffalo office at (800) 829-7650 and ask for extension 9625. If you dial that number, you do not get the correct campus. Instead, you are routed to any of the many Automated Collection Service ( ACS ) units throughout the U.S. In trying to reach these friendly collegians, you may have to wait for 40 minutes, or longer, before someone from ACS answers the telephone. When you eventually get a person and ask for extension 9625, it is very likely that the IRS ACS employee you are speaking with will either not recognize extension 9625, refuse to help, or simply hang up.

In trying to contact the Buffalo campus we have received responses from the ACS units such as, “I don=t know what you are talking about,” “I=ve never heard of the Buffalo unit,” or “I don’t know what extension 9625 is.” Sometimes it takes multiple calls to find someone who is aware of the Buffalo campus and can transfer you to the Buffalo unit, whereupon there may be another 40 minute wait until you can speak with someone there.

Unfortunately, as with ACS , the Buffalo IRS employees cannot be called directly.  If you speak with a particular person at the Buffalo IRS you will not be able to speak with that person again.  One of the many IRS mysteries is that some IRS offices in the backwaters of the U.S. may have direct lines, but the Buffalo campus which is supposed to be handling only large, and presumably important, cases does not.

This means that no matter how complicated the matter, each time one calls the entire matter must be explained to a different Buffalo employee.  Furthermore there is no correlation between the size of the tax debt and the experience or qualifications of the IRS Buffalo collegians.  Most of them are on par with, or worse than, the average ACS employee. 

It is important that when you first start the conversation, be sure to get the individual’s name and employee identification (ID) number. If you have an unfortunate experience (all too common), it is impossible to complain about someone if you do not know the person’s name or ID number. In the old days, the IRS employees would refuse to divulge their name and number. Now, they are required to do so, and they regularly do.

Don=t believe that ACS is rude only to the public and practitioners.  It is not at all unusual to talk with senior IRS employees (off the record of course) who will confirm the material in this newsletter. In fact, IRS supervisors and seasoned employees tell The Tax & Business Professionals that they experience the same type of difficulty practitioners do, namely hang‑ups, false leads, and other miscommunications.

Another ruse, particularly with the IRS offices on the west coast, is to deny that a power of attorney is on file. We have had occasions where we have been told there was no power of attorney on file, only to call back and reach a different ACS representative who acknowledges that there is a valid power of attorney on file. 

The IRS ’s new campus at Buffalo has created a new dimension and meaning for the word “buffaloed,” which used to mean only bewildered or baffled. Now it also stands for being treated rudely over a long period of time in an ineffectual manner.  Representing a client who owes more than $100,000 and who has become enrolled at the university campus of Buffalo IRS will have unfortunate and debilitating results. As a representative for such an individual or business, you will find that it is frustrating and time consuming.

The inconveniences created by ACS in general, and Buffalo in particular, are enough almost to deny taxpayers the right to representation. With good reason, many professionals loathe dealing with ACS .

Welcome to the University of H _ _ _, where you will not get a warm welcome but you will probably become very hot with anger.

Copyright 2006
By Tax and Business Professionals, Inc.
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