Advocates say I-R-S upgrades hurt poor taxpayers

Washington-AP -- Upgrades at the I-R-S may be costing the poor.

A taxpayer advocate says a move to decentralize and modernize the tax collection system is making it harder for poor taxpayers.The advocate tells the I-R-S oversight board that the agency's upgrades involved closing many walk-in offices.And that means people who don't have computers can't take advantage of new online systems for resolving problems.She says many taxpayers give up rather than fight the system, so they wind up paying taxes they don't owe, losing refunds and getting improper penalties.She says the system causes the people who can least afford it to pay more than they should.Advocates say the I-R-S should have toll-free phone and fax numbers for the poor and do more to spread the word about offices for low-income taxpayers.

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