The IRS, it turns out, is here to help you Assistance: The Internal Revenue Service will hold its first "problem-saving day" in Baltimore on Nov. 15. It is your chance to have a face-to-face meeting with an IRS expert.

November 05, 1997|By Bill Atkinson | Bill Atkinson,SUN STAFF

Lee R. Monks remembers the first time he seized a boat as a collector for the Internal Revenue Service.

He was 28 years old, he worked out of the IRS' Kansas City, Mo., office, and he wasn't a bit nervous.

"We just slapped some stickers on it and it was seized," Monks said in an interview yesterday at IRS' Delaware-Maryland district office in Baltimore.

Monks, who is the agency's national "taxpayer advocate," came to Baltimore yesterday neither to seize sailing vessels nor to threaten taxpayers, but to offer an olive branch.

On Nov. 15, the IRS will hold its first "problem-solving day" in Baltimore. The day is designed to help individuals who have long-standing tax problems work them out.

These individuals will be able to meet face to face with IRS experts who will work with them to resolve sticky tax problems.

"We know there are problems out there that haven't been resolved," Monks said. "We want taxpayers to come in so we can deal with them face-to-face. This is trying to get to those problems that go on and on and on."

Monks said the agency will be able to accommodate more than 200 people in personal meetings that day.

He expects all types of issues ranging from individuals who have "scrambled" Social Security numbers to those who have failed to make payments on taxes and still owe the government.

"We can work with the taxpayer in those kinds of situations," Monks said. "If we can't solve their problems immediately we will make sure the taxpayer knows what the next steps are."

The move comes in the wake of hearings on Capitol Hill in which individuals revealed "horror" stories of IRS agents harassing them, and using strong-arm tactics to collect money. Other stories emerged of agency workers scanning the tax returns of celebrities, relatives and even prospective dates.

Michael P. Dolan, the agency's acting commissioner, issued a public apology to taxpayers for the agency's problems.

"We recognize there are some problems," Monks said. "We need to identify the problems and straighten them out."

The agency's "problem solving day" is a step that the IRS hopes will repair its image, and help collect the billions of dollars that haven't yet been paid.

In the Delaware-Maryland district, which includes Washington, D.C., the agency is trying to collect $500 million.

Monks said people who want help in solving their tax problem should set up appointments before Nov. 15 by calling 410-962-9337. He said walk-ins will be accommodated, too. The agency will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day at the George H. Fallon Federal Building in downtown Baltimore.

The IRS will hold similar problem-solving days in Wilmington, Del.; Washington, D.C.; and the Maryland cities of Salisbury, Hagerstown and Annapolis from December to April.

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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