2013 TAP News

TAP Elects New Leaders for 2014

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) members have elected Ken Armstrong to serve as TAP Chair and Mike Swartz as TAP Vice-Chair for 2014. Ken, a resident of Kalispell, MT, and the 2013 Chair of the Toll-Free Project Committee, stated, “My TAP experience has been very rewarding thus far and my election to head this select group of volunteers for the next year is truly one of the highlights of my career. I offer a common sense approach. I will devote my energy, using my leadership, tax, accounting, and technical skills in steering this dedicated body to improve our federal income tax system, enabling compliance to be easier, faster, and less costly to the taxpayers of our country.”

Mike Swartz, from Austin, TX, a member of the Taxpayer Communications Committee and Chair of two subcommittees, added, “I am honored to be working with Ken during what will be an interesting and challenging year for the IRS and TAP. I especially look forward to strengthening our outreach efforts and ensuring that those efforts lead to real improvement within the IRS."

Congratulations to our key TAP Leaders for 2014.

Taxpayers can contact Ken Armstrong and the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel by calling 1-888-912-1227 or submitting a comment via this web site.

 

2011 TAP Recommendations

Since its creation, the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) has provided nearly 900 recommendations to the IRS to improve taxpayer service and satisfaction with IRS services, products and procedures. These issues are derived from direct taxpayer feedback as well as projects the IRS asked the TAP to work.

After TAP submits a recommendation, IRS program areas review the recommendation and implement it if appropriate and feasible. While the IRS gives serious consideration to TAP recommendations, it is sometimes limited in its ability to implement recommendations due to cost, legislative or regulatory restrictions, a difference in philosophy, or the need to balance relieving taxpayer burdens with their responsibility to efficiently collect proper tax revenues owed.

Results from recommendations submitted in 2011 include:

  • Making identity theft information more readily available to taxpayer victims;
  • Improving the process for matching a taxpayer‘s name with IRS records to increase the acceptance of e-filed tax returns;
  • Revising procedures to help individuals who failed to file required returns in prior years obtain the instructions, forms and information necessary to prepare and file those past-due returns;
  • Emphasizing e-filing and sending a reminder postcard to filers of Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return;
  • Improving the self-service distribution of forms and publications in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers;
  • Improving service and communication in the Correspondence Examination Program; and
  • Improving numerous IRS notices, forms, and publications.

For detailed information about TAP‘s recommendations to the IRS in 2011, as well as in previous years, please visit the TAP Recommendations page.
 

June and July Project Committee Updates

In conjunction with the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel‘s (TAP) mission to improve the IRS, TAP members identify and focus on specific issues through Project and Joint Committee work. Members use key findings to make recommendations and provide direct input to the IRS on new and existing IRS programs and initiatives.

In addition to speaking with taxpayers, conducting research, and ongoing planning, Project Committee members meet approximately once per month to discuss current projects, progress on key issues and future happenings. This month‘s updates include:

  • Notices and Correspondence Project Committee – Members completed work on recommendations for Installment Agreement notices and landing pages for these notices. They have five referrals pending review for elevation to the IRS. They are working on a referral for the CP2000 notice. Additionally, they are in the process of screening several new issues.
  • Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Improvements Project Committee – Members have visited their TACs and their Local Taxpayer Advocates and continue to actively seek out issues to present to the IRS. They have narrowed their topics down to five for final recommendations: cash payments, Form 2290, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return, Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, Virtual Service Delivery, and internships.
  • Taxpayer Communications Project Committee – The past few months the committee continued to make progress toward its objectives as follows:
    • Technology for Outreach and Education – referral completed and submitted to the Joint Committee to elevate to the IRS;
    • Online Payment Agreement (OPA) – referral regarding suggestions to increase the use of OPAs was completed and is pending approval to elevate to the IRS;
    • Taxpayer E-fax – continuing work and research on this topic;
    • Identity Theft of Business – research completed and determined without additional direction from the IRS the committee cannot provide recommendations on this topic; and
    • Website chat feature – referral completed and submitted to the Joint Committee to elevate to the IRS.
  • Tax Forms and Publications Project Committee – Four subcommittees, encompassing all members, completed the review of Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets. They are currently working on Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, which has also come under scrutiny by the IRS Advisory Council (IRSAC). Development of TAP‘s referral will be delayed so it does not duplicate the work. Members participated in an IRS focus group that reviewed software format vs. official IRS forms. The subcommittee working on Publication 555, Community Property, will be completing its report within the next two weeks. Finally, they have prepared a referral recommending that Post Office boxes should also be permitted for mailed refund checks. Activities on several tax forms are also in progress.
  • Toll-Free Phone Line Project Committee – The two subcommittees have nearly completed lengthy referrals. One subcommittee has completed its internal quality review and submitted its referral to the full committee for approval. The other subcommittee is putting the finishing touches on their referral before submission to the internal quality review team. Since both committees have nearly completed their original referrals, they will be considering new issues for further study.

May Project Committee Updates

In conjunction with the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel‘s (TAP) mission to improve the IRS, TAP members identify and focus on specific issues through Project and Joint Committee work. Members use key findings to make recommendations and provide direct input to the IRS on new and existing IRS programs and initiatives.

In addition to speaking with taxpayers, conducting research, and ongoing planning, Project Committee members meet approximately once per month to discuss current projects, progress on key issues and future happenings. This month‘s updates include:

  • Notices and Correspondence Project Committee – Members are currently working on internal quality review for three installment agreement letters and webpages for these letters. In addition, members have also begun drafting referrals for several IRS letters. These referrals will provide recommendations to the IRS for improving IRS notices and correspondence.
  • Tax Forms and Publications Project Committee – With the close of the tax season, members will revisit reviewing several IRS publications and forms, such as Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement. Members are also discussing two issues recently rejected by the IRS and rewriting several other issues.
  • Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Improvements Project Committee – Members continue to actively seek out LTAs and TACs to identify issues to present to the IRS.
  • Taxpayer Communications Project Committee – Three of the five subcommittees worked on draft referrals in May, while others made progress with completing recommendations. In addition, the Business ID Theft subcommittee joined an IRS conference call to learn more about issues in this space, and the screening subcommittee reassigned the issue of potential identity theft related to address changes.
  • Toll-Free Phone Line Project Committee – One subcommittee completed and submitted a solid, highly-technical referral to quality review in May, and the other subcommittee is in the final stages of submitting its referral.

National Taxpayer Advocate Identifies Priority
Issues in FY14 Objectives Report to Congress

FY2014 ORC Report CoverNational Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina Olson‘s FY2014 Objectives Report to Congress, released June 26, 2013, identifies priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will focus on during the upcoming fiscal year, including the impact of budget cuts on the IRS‘s ability to meet taxpayer needs and shortcomings in IRS procedures for assisting victims of tax-related identity theft. In light of recent findings by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the NTA also released a special report examining the IRS‘s use of questionable criteria to screen applicants for tax-exempt status.

In addition to identifying the priority issues TAS will focus on during the upcoming fiscal year, the report describes numerous challenges facing the IRS, including:
 

  • Relieving the financial harm suffered by victims of tax return preparer fraud.

  • Conducting adequate oversight of the tax return preparer industry.

  • Providing effective, timely, and taxpayer-centric relief to victims of identity theft.

  • Utilizing effective and timely collection alternatives to minimize taxpayer burden while reducing the number and dollar amount of balance-due accounts.

  • Conducting education and outreach to taxpayers about their responsibilities under the Affordable Care Act.

  • Resolving erroneous revocations of the tax-exempt status of small ¬ß 501(c)(3) organizations and failing to provide them with a pre-revocation administrative appeal.

  • Establishing less draconian and more reasonable “settlement initiatives” for the millions of taxpayers who have legitimate reasons for overseas bank and financial accounts and whose failure to file reports was merely negligent.

For more information or to access to the full report and related graphics, visit the FY 2014 Objectives Report to Congress section of the TAS Tax Toolkit.

April Project Committee Updates

As part of its effort to improve the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel‘s (TAP) members identify and focus on specific issues through Project and Joint Committee work. They use their findings to make recommendations and provide direct input to the IRS on new and existing IRS programs and initiatives.

In addition to speaking with taxpayers, conducting research, and ongoing planning, Project Committee members meet approximately once per month to discuss current projects, progress on key issues and future happenings. This month‘s updates include:

  • Notices and Correspondence Project Committee – Members are in the process of completing first referral for three installment agreement letters and webpages for these letters. These referrals will provide recommendations to the IRS for improving IRS notices and correspondence.  
  • Tax Forms and Publications Project Committee – Members are busy with tax season and related tax preparation activities winding down. Projects in progress include focus group referral form restructuring and two subcommittee issues.
  • Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Improvements Project Committee – Members continue to actively seek out TACs and identify opportunities for improvement. The committee recently received information on Virtual Service Delivery (VSD) sites and will be visiting those moving forward to identify ways these sites can better serve taxpayers.
  • Taxpayer Communications Project Committee – Members are continuing to work with the Small Business/Self- Employed (SBSE) IRS operating division on improving training videos for small business owners. In addition, two subcommittees are researching technology outreach and identity theft issues to help identify potential improvements the IRS can implement.
  • Toll-Free Project Committee – Two subcommittees are working to complete several referrals to submit to the IRS regarding services that can be redirected from the toll-free line to the IRS.gov website or Interactive Video Response (IVR) system.

2013 Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Recruitment Period Closed

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel's (TAP) 2013 recruitment membership application period closed on April 1, 2013. TAP sincerely thanks all who submitted an application. During the open recruiting period, from February 22, 2013, through April 1, 2013, TAP received more than 400 applications for panel membership from American taxpayers living around the world. For the first time this year, TAP accepted applications from U.S. citizens living abroad or in a U.S. territory to raise awareness of issues facing international taxpayers.

To select new members, TAP will thoroughly review all applications submitted during the recruitment period. The TAP director will submit TAP membership recommendations to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina Olson and the IRS commissioner for approval, and then to the Department of the Treasury for final selection. Stay tuned for the introduction of new Panel members, who will begin their three-year terms in December 2013.

Thanks again to those who volunteered to speak up on issues that impact taxpaying citizens nationwide by applying for TAP membership. If you are interested in volunteering to serve as a TAP member but were unable to apply during this year‘s application period, please visit the Join TAP page to sign up for an email alert when TAP member openings are available in your area. You may also check this site early spring 2014 for information on the next recruitment period.

Speak Up! Join the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) is actively seeking volunteers to serve on the panel. TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee that listens to taxpayers, identifies taxpayers‘ issues and makes suggestions for improving IRS customer service and satisfaction. TAP members serve three-year terms and commit 200 to 300 hours each year to identify concerns about IRS service and suggest changes. Apply before the April 1, 2013 deadline!

TAP reports directly to the Secretary of the Treasury, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), who leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that provides oversight of the TAP.

TAP is seeking members or alternate members in the following states: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. For the first time this year, TAP is also expanding recruitment efforts to U.S. citizens living abroad or in a U.S. territory. 

TAP represents taxpayers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the interests of U.S. taxpayers living overseas, including dual citizens, who must meet U.S. tax obligations. To learn more about being a TAP member, to find out if there are openings in your state or to apply, visit the Join TAP page. 

 

 


 

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