National Taxpayer Advocate Quotes
Except as noted, the following comments are from the NTA’s 2010 Annual Report to Congress.
On tax reform:
- "There has been near-universal agreement for years that the tax code is broken and needs to be fixed. Yet no broad-based attempt to reform the tax code has been made."
- "Tax complexity doesn’t occur just because of “big money” special interests. It occurs because of the tax provisions that benefit each one of us. We are the special interests."
- "The road to true tax reform requires each and every one to be willing to stop protecting our own tax breaks long enough to begin a dialogue about what we want our system to look like, so we remain a vibrant nation with a tax system that is transparent to its taxpayers – one that is simpler to understand and to comply with."
- "The tax laws should be simple enough so that most taxpayers can prepare their own returns without professional help, simple enough so that taxpayers can compute their tax liabilities on a single form, and simple enough so that IRS telephone assistors can fully and accurately answer taxpayers’ questions."
On IRS lien filing and other tax collection practices:
- "Collection requires a delicate balancing of the government’s interest in collecting revenue and ensuring that all taxpayers pay their fair share of tax, on the one hand, and the legitimate interests of taxpayers with financial difficulties, on the other. At present, many IRS collection practices do not require much balancing."
- "IRS lien filing policies focus almost exclusively on tax collection without regard for the legitimate concern of affected persons that collection actions be no more intrusive than necessary."
- "If lien filings were clearly correlated with substantial increases in revenue collection, one could at least understand the IRS’s position. But over the same period that the IRS has increased lien filings by 550 percent, revenue collected by the IRS’s Collection function has remained flat."
In response to new IRS lien policy (Excerpt from Accounting Today, February 24, 2011 – IRS Overhauls Tax Lien System):
- "The IRS makes little effort to personally communicate with taxpayers after the issuance of the initial collection notices – a significant percentage of which are sent to addresses that the IRS knows are "undeliverable." Thus, millions of collection accounts sit silently in the queue for months and years, leading taxpayers to believe the IRS is ignoring the debt – which it is. When the debt gets large enough, the IRS may assign the case to a collection employee, but by then, the debt is substantially larger by virtue of penalties and interest. By this point, for many taxpayers, these debts have become impossible to resolve."
On problems caused by IRS mail procedures:
- "The IRS mails over 200 million pieces of correspondence to taxpayers each year, yet it does not track how much of this mail is annually returned as “undeliverable as addressed.”
On the IRS mission and its role in administering social benefit programs:
- "As it prepares to administer large portions of the health care legislation, including approving claims by low income persons for health care tax credits and imposing a penalty tax on persons who are required to purchase health care but fail to do so, the IRS will have to change. Rather than being an agency that has increasingly been using automation to send notices to taxpayers saying, in effect, “you owe us,” the IRS will move toward becoming an agency that hires and trains caseworkers who will work one-on-one with taxpayers to resolve legitimate disagreements."