IRS Wants to Help `Problem Solving Day' on Saturday

Article excerpt

The Internal Revenue Service has been taking a good deal of

abuse in the last two months, but the agency is trying to turn

its image around, beginning with its first "Problem Solving Day"

Saturday in Jacksonville and 32 other cities.

Citizens can talk to IRS employees about their lingering tax

problems, which could range from unresolved bills to errors with

payments or IRS collection tactics.

"Having a national day, it's almost the equivalent of a

military stand down," said Phil Brand, a former IRS chief

compliance officer now at the accounting firm KPMG Peat Marwick.

"I think it has a chance of being almost a seminal event for the

service."

IRS employees and top officials will be available Saturday.

"It gives us another opportunity to interact with the public,

to let people know that we really are interested in solving

problems," said Henry O. Lamar Jr., district director for the

IRS in Jacksonville.

The IRS has been fighting a negative image for years, and its

image took an even bigger beating two months ago as the Senate

Finance Committee heard taxpayers' tales of abuse by the agency

during hearings. Acting IRS Commissioner Michael Dolan promised

at the hearing to take immediate action to try to help

taxpayers.

"This day [Saturday] is really in response to comments made

by our acting commissioner at the finance committee hearings,"

Lamar said.

Taxpayers can come to the IRS office at 400 W. Bay St. in

downtown Jacksonville from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to talk

with an IRS representative. Maxine Lindsay, IRS taxpayer

advocate for the Jacksonville district, said some problems can

get resolved in as little as 15 minutes, such as a delayed

refund check.

"Those are quick fixes," she said.

An appointment is not necessary, but one can be scheduled for

Saturday by calling (904) 354-1760 or 1-800-829-1040. …