The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS and is the taxpayer’s voice at the IRS. TAS employees help taxpayers who are experiencing financial difficulties, taxpayers who are seeking help in resolving problems with the IRS, and taxpayers who believe an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should.
In early 2014, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson delivered her 2013 annual report to Congress. She stressed the need for a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights and more adequate funding to serve taxpayers, pointing out that the IRS annually receives more than 100 million telephone calls from taxpayers. Olson said in fiscal year 2013, the IRS could only answer 61% of calls from taxpayers seeking to speak with an IRS customer service representative. No wonder I was on hold forever last time I called them!
She reported that some of the challenges for the IRS were dealing with the effects of sequestration and a substantial cut in IRS funding. This, in addition to their public trust, fairness, and impartiality being called into question because of reports the IRS subjected certain applicants for tax-exempt status to greater review based on political sounding names.
Another area addressed was the need for return preparer oversight. While the IRS has made strides in this area, a U.S. District Court in 2013 invalidated regulations governing the IRS’s testing and continuing education requirements, holding that they exceeded the authority of the Treasury Department. The issue is under appeal.
For a complete text of the report you can click here.
Dale F. Jensen, CPA