Thursday, July 02, 2009

National Taxpayer Advocate Submits Mid-Year Report to Congress

The IRS posted a new press release recently announcing that the National Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) had delivered their mid-year report to congress earlier this week. In the report, the TAS emphasizes the importance of tax preparer oversight, improving taxpayer services, improving access to the offer in compromise program, and improving the IRS’s ability to effectively deliver refundable tax credits. You can read a segment of the release below, but the full text can be read by visiting the IRS’s newsroom.

The report notes that FY 2010 will mark the ten-year anniversary of the Taxpayer Advocate Service, which began operations in March of 2000. “As TAS enters its tenth year, both TAS and the IRS face a difficult environment for achieving what is, in essence, the same mission – ensuring that the IRS treats taxpayers fairly and identifying ways to increase voluntary compliance while addressing noncompliance,” Olson said. She identified the collection of tax revenue at a time when “increasing numbers of taxpayers have difficulty paying their daily living expenses” as a principal challenge.

The Advocate’s report, which is required by law, sets out the objectives of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate for the upcoming fiscal year and provides substantive analysis of issues and statistical information. Among the areas the report identifies for particular emphasis in FY 2010 are the following:

1. Taxpayer Services. The report notes that the IRS created a five-year strategic plan for taxpayer service (known as the Taxpayer Assistance Blueprint, or “TAB”) in response to a directive from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in FY 2006. The directive was originally motivated by concern that IRS taxpayer services were often ad hoc and not sufficiently coordinated or research-driven. The Advocate’s report expresses concern that the momentum to implement and refine the TAB recommendations has abated. It recommends that the IRS reinvigorate its efforts to pursue cross-functional, research-driven service improvements.

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