TAP News

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins Delivers
Her First Report to Congress

National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins today released her first report to Congress, identifying taxpayer challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the IRS's implementation of the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) as priority issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) plans to focus on in the coming year.  
 
"I am proud to advocate for taxpayers' rights and to work toward improving the taxpayer experience to ensure a fair and just tax administration. The effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future. We will continue to identify areas where taxpayers' needs are not being met and will continue to advocate for alternative approaches to meet those needs," Erin M. Collins said.
 
Taxpayer Challenges Arising from COVID-19 Pandemic
 
While the report praises the IRS for acting quickly to postpone over 300 filing, payment, and other time-sensitive deadlines, provide broad relief from compliance actions under its "People First Initiative," and disburse some 160 million Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) authorized by the CARES Act, there have been notable adverse taxpayer impacts, including:
  • Taxpayers who filed a 2019 paper return and are entitled to refunds may be in for a long wait.
  • Some taxpayers whose returns were mistakenly flagged by IRS processing filters are experiencing lengthy delays in receiving their refunds.
  • Taxpayers who have needed help from the IRS have had difficulty obtaining it.
  • IRS systems prepared over 20 million notices during the pandemic that could not be mailed due to closure of notice production centers between April 8 and June 1.
 
Taxpayer Challenges Relating to the CARES Act
 
The report says the IRS generally did a commendable job implementing the CARES Act, but taxpayer challenges remain, including:
  • Individuals who did not receive some or all of their EIPs may have to wait until next year to receive them.
  • Employers are struggling to determine whether they qualify for the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and in what amounts.
  • Businesses are facing challenges when seeking to utilize the CARES Act provision that authorizes the use of net operating losses to offset taxable income in prior years.
 
Implementation of Taxpayer First Act (TFA)
 
The report details some steps the IRS has taken to receive input from taxpayers, practitioners, and TAS, and identifies over two dozen TFA provisions that the IRS has implemented.  It expresses concern that the IRS has not properly implemented a provision directing it to establish a single point of contact for identity theft victims and that it may not properly implement a provision directing it to exclude taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level from assignment to private debt collection agencies by December 31, 2020. 
 
Filing Season Review and Other TAS Areas of Focus for Fiscal Year 2021
 
The report provides a partial review of the 2020 filing season and identifies ten additional systemic areas TAS plans to focus on in the upcoming fiscal year.
 
IRS Responses to National Taxpayer Advocate Administrative Recommendations
 
The National Taxpayer Advocate's 2019 Annual Report to Congress, delivered six months ago, made 78 administrative recommendations for IRS consideration. Section 7803(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code requires the IRS to respond within three months to any such administrative recommendations. The IRS's responses are published in full in an appendix to the report.
 
Fifty-nine of the administrative recommendations were made in the "Most Serious Problems" section of the 2019 annual report. The IRS responded to those in full and has implemented or agreed to implement 41 (or 69 percent). The report also made 19 administrative recommendations in other sections of the report. The IRS has taken the position that it is not required to respond directly to them and has provided only general narrative responses. The National Taxpayer Advocate believes the IRS is required to provide direct responses. "The intent of the statute is clear," the report says. "If the National Taxpayer Advocate makes an administrative recommendation to mitigate a taxpayer problem – regardless of whether or where it has appeared in a report – the IRS should evaluate it and respond in writing so that TAS, Congress, and the taxpaying public know whether the IRS plans to implement the recommendation and, if not, why not. General narrative discussions that do not address recommendations directly fail to satisfy this objective."
 
The National Taxpayer Advocate is required by statute to submit two annual reports to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. The first report must identify the objectives of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate for the fiscal year beginning in that calendar year. The second report must discuss the ten most serious problems encountered by taxpayers, identify the ten tax issues most frequently litigated in the courts, and make administrative and legislative recommendations to resolve taxpayer problems.
 
 

New Tool Provides Steps Needed to Get Economic Impact
Payments, in Less Than a Minute

 
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has a new tool called, How Do I Get an Economic Impact Payment. It can help anyone determine what steps, if any, need to be taken to receive your payment. 
 
To use this tool, visit TAS’s website and follow the steps outlined. The tool will then prompt you through some simple questions to determine what actions, if any, you need to take based on the answers you provide. It takes less than a minute!  
 
If additional steps are needed to receive your payment, the tool will provide the links and information.
 
Don’t like to use online tools? No problem, go to our TAS Tax Tip and read through the steps instead. 
 
Visit taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/coronavirus for more information. Both the tool and our Coronavirus Tax Relief page are available in Spanish, as well. 
 
Please share this information with your friends and family or host the tool, or our video, on websites, in newsletters, through blogs or social media to help others get more information about how to get their Economic Impact Payments. 
 
 

COVID-19 related inquiries

The Internal Revenue Service and the Taxpayer Advocate Service are experiencing delays and interruptions in working cases due to widespread IRS operation closures. These closures are also causing a high call volume resulting in delays in response times. We ask for your patience during this time.
 
For answers to general IRS tax questions go to taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/get-help or irs.gov. For questions about Economic Impact Payments, please go to irs.gov/coronavirus
 
TAP, unfortunately, is not able to respond to these general inquiries. These are the only and best ways to get answers as the IRS phone lines are not staffed at this time and all the IRS campuses are closed in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The temporary closure of IRS facilities, in accordance with state and local orders, is playing an important role in stopping community spread COVID-19 among federal employees, families, friends and communities.
 
If you have an unresolved tax issue that is causing an economic hardship, please contact your local Taxpayer Advocate Service office.
 
We thank you for your patience and understanding as we are all dealing with these difficult times and working under unprecedented conditions.
 
 

IRS extends deadline for 2021 Taxpayer Advocacy Panel
applications, adds new members for the 2020 panel

The IRS has extended the deadline for members of the public to apply for membership on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel for 2021. Individuals may submit a TAP application online at www.improveirs.org through April 20, 2020.
 
Please consider this opportunity to make a difference in how the IRS delivers products and services. A video is available with information about the TAP and how volunteers can contribute to this dynamic group.
 
New members for 2020
 
The Internal Revenue Service recommended, and the Department of the Treasury has approved, the selection of 33 new members to serve on the TAP for 2020.
 
The new TAP members will join 32 returning members to round out the panel of 65 volunteers for 2020. The new members were selected from a pool of more than 300 interested individuals who applied during an open recruitment period last spring and alternate members who applied in prior years.
 
The TAP is a federal advisory committee charged with listening to taxpayers, identifying issues, and making suggestions to improve IRS service and customer satisfaction. Oversight and program support for the TAP are provided by the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent organization within the IRS that helps resolve taxpayer problems and makes administrative and legislative recommendations to mitigate systemic problems.
 
Members of the TAP work on a variety of issues that impact taxpayers in the key areas where the IRS and the public interact the most. Members also serve as a conduit for bringing grassroots concerns raised by the taxpaying public to the attention of the IRS.
 
TAP members are U.S. citizens who volunteer to serve a three-year appointment and are expected to devote 200 to 300 hours per year to panel activities. To the extent possible, TAP members are demographically and geographically diverse, providing balanced representation from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition, there is one TAP member from abroad who represents the interests of taxpayers working, living, or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory.
 
The new TAP members by location:
 
 First Name  Last Name  City  State/Territory
 James  Sharmat  Santa Monica  CA
 Sandy  Villella  Wildomar  CA
 Cynthia  Torres  Riverside  CA
 Martha  Lewis  Colorado Springs  CO
 Barbara  Snowden  West Haven  CT
 Alexas  Pickron  Townsend  DE
 Joseph  Maygar  Tampa  FL
 Charles  Jones  Green Cove Springs  FL
 Nina  Tross  Apollo Beach  FL
 Ying  Sa  Des Moines  IA
 Hercules Iraklis  Analitis  Urbana  IL
 Jordan  Bayles  Terre Haute  IN
 Paula  King  Lexington  KY
 Kimberly  Shepherd  Monroe  LA
 Dorothy  Havey  Lincolnville  ME
 Jocelyn  Gutowski  Saint Robert  MO
 Jessica  Wilson  Byram  MS
 Jim  Buttonow  Summerfield  NC
 Edward  Donovan  Holly Springs  NC
 Cedric  Obiaka  Omaha  NE
 Kenneth  Lewis  New York City  NY
 T Renee  Parker  Brentwood  NY
 Patrice  Brown  Brooklyn  NY
 Thomas  Kerr  Amherst  NY
 Laurie  Brock  Eugene  OR
 Lindsey  Funair  Du Bois  PA
 Michael  Avery  San Juan  PR
 Brandon  Ruest  North Providence  RI
 Leigh Ann  Wood  Columbia  SC
 Joseph  Edelen  Vermillion  SD
 Marlon  Bell  Pearland  TX
 Cassandra  Knight-Paige  Houston  TX
 Richard  Brouillard  Waterloo  WI
 
 
Taxpayers can contact the TAP representative for their geographic area by calling 888-912-1227 (a toll-free call) or online at www.improveirs.org
 
Taxpayers can also send written correspondence to the TAP at the following address:
 
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel
TA:TAP, Room 1509
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20224
 
 

Still considering volunteering with the Taxpayer Advocacy
Panel (TAP)?

TAP’s open season for accepting applications for the 2021 panel has been extended. You may apply through April 20, 2020.
 
For additional information about the TAP or the application process, visit www.improveirs.org or call 888-912-1227 (a toll-free call) and select prompt number five. Callers outside the U.S. may call 214-413-6523 (not a toll-free call) or email the TAP staff at taxpayeradvocacypanel@irs.gov.
 
 

What members are saying about the TAP

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking civic-minded volunteers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP). See what current members are saying about the TAP:
 
 
“The most rewarding part of volunteering with TAP is interacting with people from across the US on issues that impact every taxpayer. Collaborating with TAP members and IRS representatives provides an opportunity to produce positive results. Changes range from updating forms to solving international taxpayer issues. The problems we address are diverse and impactful. Serving on TAP is an excellent way to affect change in our government. I encourage any civic-minded individual to apply.”
 
 
“It's inspiring that there is a group of people who care about improving the IRS enough to invest their own time to do so.”
 
 
“This is my first year, and it’s pretty exciting so far. It’s pretty amazing to work side by side with IRS staff and other volunteers from around the country and learning about ways to partner with IRS. Not only is it giving me new experience in working on productive teams, but it gives me access to what IRS is doing to modernize their IT systems. It’s a chance to actually make a difference by making recommendations to the IRS that come from taxpayers; serving on a federal advisory committee, I would recommend to anyone looking for a challenge in improving government for all of us.”
 
 
Taxpayers interested in serving on the panel may apply through April 20. For additional information about the TAP or the application process, visit www.improveirs.org or call 888-912-1227 (a toll-free call) and select prompt number five. Callers outside the U.S. may call 214-413-6523 (not a toll-free call) or email the TAP staff at taxpayeradvocacypanel@irs.gov.
 
 

IRS seeks volunteers to be the voice of the Taxpayer on the
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

The Internal Revenue Service today announced it is seeking civic-minded volunteers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP).
 
The TAP is a federal advisory committee that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns, and makes recommendations for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction.
 
Taxpayers interested in serving on the panel may apply through April 20.
 
"To meet the needs of the taxpaying public, it is critical that the IRS listen to taxpayers to hear what their needs and preferences are," said Bridget T. Roberts, the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate. "The citizen volunteers who serve on the TAP hear from taxpayers and then bring their collective voice and recommendations to the IRS.
 
The TAP reports annually to the Secretary of the Treasury, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate is an independent organization within the IRS that provides support for and oversight of the TAP.
 
To the extent possible, the TAP includes members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and one member representing international taxpayers. Each member is appointed to represent the interests of taxpayers in their geographic location as well as taxpayers overall. For the TAP, "international taxpayers" are broadly defined to include U. S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad or in U.S. territories.
 
The TAP is seeking members in the following locations: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
 
The panel is seeking alternates in the following locations: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
 
Federal advisory committees are required to have a balanced membership in terms of points of view represented. As such, applicants from under-represented groups, such as Native Americans and non-tax professionals, are particularly encouraged to apply. All timely applications, however, will be given consideration.
 
New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2020. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years.
 
To be a member of the TAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be current with his or her federal tax obligations, be able to commit 200 to 300 volunteer hours during the year, and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background check. Members cannot be federally registered lobbyists. Current Department of the Treasury or IRS employees cannot serve on the panel, and former Department of the Treasury or IRS employees and former TAP members must have a three-year separation from their service to be considered for appointment. Tax practitioner applicants must be in good standing with the IRS (meaning not currently under suspension or disbarment).
 
For additional information about the TAP or the application process, visit