National Taxpayer Advocate Bio
Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, is the voice of the taxpayer before the IRS and Congress. She leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS, in helping taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and in working for systemic change in the IRS and the U.S. tax code. TAS has assisted more than two million taxpayers since its inception in 2000.
Throughout her career, Ms. Olson has advocated for the rights of taxpayers, and for greater fairness and less complexity in the tax system. In calling for fundamental reform in 2012, she wrote, “A simpler, more transparent tax code will substantially reduce the estimated 6.1 billion hours and $168 billion that taxpayers spend on return preparation” and “reduce the likelihood that sophisticated taxpayers can exploit arcane provisions to avoid paying their fair share of tax.”
Ms. Olson was appointed to the position of National Taxpayer Advocate in January 2001. Under her leadership, the Annual Report to Congress has become a vehicle for change. It is one of two reports the NTA is required by statute to deliver each year, and outlines the most serious problems facing the taxpayer. Dozens of her recommendations for change have been introduced as legislation since 2001 and fifteen have been enacted.
Ms. Olson is a member of the American College of Tax Counsel, and delivered the group's prestigious Griswold Lecture in January 2010. More recently, she gave the 2013 Woodworth Lecture, sponsored by Pettit College of Law at Ohio Northern University. The non-profit Tax Foundation selected her to receive its Public Sector Distinguished Service Award in 2007. Accounting Today magazine has named her one of its Top 100 Most Influential People in the accounting profession each year since 2004 and Money magazine named her one of the 12 "Class Acts of 2004."
Prior to her appointment as the NTA, Ms. Olson founded and was Executive Director of The Community Tax Law Project, the first independent § 501(c)(3) low income taxpayer clinic in the United States. From 1975 until 1991, she owned a tax planning and preparation firm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
An attorney licensed in Virginia and North Carolina, Ms. Olson served as the chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation’s Low Income Taxpayers Committee as well as the Pro Se/Pro Bono Task Force of the ABA Tax Section's Court Procedure Committee. She is the 1999 recipient of both the Virginia Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award and the City of Richmond Bar Association's Pro Bono Award.
Ms. Olson graduated from Bryn Mawr College cum laude with an A.B. in Fine Arts. She received her J.D. cum laude from North Carolina Central School of Law and her Masters of Law in Taxation, with distinction, from Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Olson has served as an adjunct professor at several law schools.