Taxpayer Advocate Issues Mid-Year Report

Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has just released her mid-year report to Congress.  In the report, she reviews the results of the eight public forums she held throughout the country (including the one in Red Oak, Iowa). From this work, she has identified several key areas of concern. The report outlines them in detail, but highlights include:

  • The need to increase trust in the IRS
  • Trying to create a “future state” when the current one is broken
  • The negative impact of IRS “centralization” on taxpayers
  • The limitations of online services, especially for a segment of the population with limited online access or experience
  • Granting online access to taxpayer accounts to unregulated tax preparers
  • Security Concerns over Digital Usage

In addition to reviewing the public forums, Ms. Olson reviewed the 2016 tax filing season. And, she had some good news. The season went “much more smoothly” than 2015. During the 2015 filing season, IRS answered only 37 percent of taxpayer calls. During 2016, this statistic rose to 73 percent and wait times were reduced in half to an average of 11 minutes. 

Identified as priorities for 2017, were working with IRS on levies against retirement accounts. The taxpayer advocate service is working to ensure that the definition of “flagrant,” so as to subject a retirement account to an IRS does not include those situations where a taxpayers is simply unable to pay.

Similarly, the report specifies that the office will be working with IRS to ensure that is assignment of delinquent accounts to private debt collection agencies (as directed by Congress) does not impinge taxpayer rights.

The report also continues to bemoan the fact that the earned income tax credit is plagued with fraud, yet often difficult to obtain by those who are qualified. The office will continue to work with IRS to eliminate these problems.