Friday, June 8, 2012

The Taxpayer Advocate- Focused on the Right Things

Instead, many of the problems identified as systemic involved a specific problem affecting a single tax payer.

Several factors led to the mis-identification of some issues. For starters, the research done during the screening process is prone to both timing pressures – one level of review was completed in just a few days – as well as a desire to err on the side of caution. That is, the reviewers sometimes included projects for which it’s wasn’t fully known if the problem affected multiple taxpayers.

As any exec knows oakley ray ban, doing things rights is just part of the battle. You also need to do the right things – that is, the activities that are important, as well as urgent; and can move your organization forward, as well as put out whatever fires are burning at the moment.

In addition, TAS has been capturing information in its Case Advocacy Program; this initiative helps taxpayers having specific problems. However, according to the report, the agency hasn’t been using this information to identify issues that actually may be systemic and warrant further review. Instead, TAS relies on IRS employees and others to submit potential systemic issues.

While the TIGTA report found some shortcomings within the Taxpayer Advocate Service’ operations coach bags, most taxpayers will agree with the assessment of National Taxpayer Advocate oakley ray ban, Nina Olson, who heads the agency, that tax reform is “the number one priority in tax administration.” Olson discussed this in her annual report to Congress in January.

TIGTA also found that the current performance measures don’t provide enough information to determine if the project benefits tax administration. Currently, two measures are in place: the number of projects closed per full-time employee coach bags, and the timeliness of any corrective action taken by the IRS. Neither really measures how effective the projects TAS undertakes are in resolving systemic taxpayer issues.

In fact, less than 20 percent of the TAS’ time that was spent on what it calls “systemic advocacy projects” actually was, according to the report. These are projects that, among other factors, affect multiple taxpayers, relate to IRS systems and procedures, require study and analysis and possibly legislation or administrative changes, and involve protecting taxpayer rights or reducing taxpayer burden. Past advocacy projects have focused on the alternative minimum tax and Federal tax deposit requirements, among other issues.

A recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reviewed the work of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), which was created by the IRS in 1979 to serve as the primary advocate, within the IRS, for taxpayers. TAS has several primary functions: helping taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS; identify areas in which taxpayers have problems in dealings with the IRS; and to the extent possible, propose changes within the IRS or through legislation that would mitigate the problems identified.

The title of the report, “The Identification and Evaluation of Systemic Advocacy Projects Designed to Resolve Broad-Based Taxpayer Problems Can Be Improved,” although ponderous oakley ray ban, offers a glimpse into the findings. TIGTA reviewed 25 projects that had been identified as involving systemic issues that affected multiple taxpayers; this was out of a total of 134 such projects that TAS closed in 2009. Of those, it “determined that documentation for 13 projects did not support that the issue was a systemic problem.” Instead, the problems arose from isolated mistakes or confusion by the taxpayer, a tax preparer or IRS employee.


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