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FY22 Goal 4: Enhance TAS Processes and Technology to Improve Taxpayer Service

Organizational Objectives

1
1.

Partner with the IRS on prioritization of digital notice delivery based on taxpayer needs.

Status: Closed
Completion Date: 12/31/2021

Quarterly Update:
1st Quarter:
The Taxpayer Advocate Service partnered with the IRS on prioritization of digital notice delivery based on taxpayer needs by collaborating with IRS on its timeline for when all notices issued by the IRS will be viewable within Online Accounts and Tax Pro Online Accounts and identified additional functionalities for Online Accounts. Also, we reviewed and commented on non-IRS online service offerings available to practitioners and worked with the IRS in its development of the Tax Pro Online Account. Through our collaboration with IRS, we found ways to integrate the various online services into a seamless platform. All planned activities for this objective have been completed. 

2
2.

Collaborate with the IRS to ensure continued improvement of the IRS’s telephone and in-person service.

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) executives met monthly with IRS’ Return Integrity and Compliance Service (RICS) division executives regarding the Security Summit Initiative and discussed and collaborated on emerging issues elevated by Security Summit participants.  Also, we participate on the Security Summit Communication and Taxpayer Awareness Work Group bi-monthly basis.  Additionally, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) recommendation, included in the Annual Report to Congress (ARC) Most Serious Problem (MSP) “Digital Communication Tools Are Too-Limited, Making Communication with the IRS Unnecessarily Difficult” discusses the urgency of accelerating the implementation and expansion of digital communications to help taxpayers and their representatives receive the help they need by enhancing digital channels for all taxpayers and representatives who choose to use them for interactions with the IRS, to drive traffic and self-service from telephones to efficient digital communications.  Lastly, the IRS committed to planning an 85 percent level of service starting in fiscal year 2023 based on the changing budgetary expectations and the continued supportive advocacy of the NTA and TAS grassroot efforts.

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) has collaborated with the IRS to assist them in making certain they continue to improve their telephone and in-person service through joint efforts, direct advocacy, and inclusion in the Annual Report to Congress’ (ARC) Most Serious Problem (MSP), “Taxpayers Face Significant Challenges Reaching IRS Representatives Due to Longstanding Deficiencies and Pandemic Complications” along with blogs from the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA). Further, TAS executives meet at least monthly with IRS’ Wage and Investment (W&I) division to discuss and collaborate on emerging customer service. Also, our executives meet monthly with Appeals to advocate for them to expand their geographic footprint and to provide the taxpayer with the option of postponing conferences until meetings can be conducted safely.

TAS has collaborated with IRS to help develop and finalize the Taxpayer First Act (TFA) strategies. We provided oversight of TAS employees working on six IRS Human Capital Office (HCO), TFA Training Strategy Sub-Teams: Academy Standards, Learning Technology, Employee Development Lifecycle, Learning Organization governance Structure, Universal Training, and IRS University teams. The following teams were disbanded with little to no explanation by HCO before the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2021: Academy Standards, Learning Technology, Employee Development Lifecycle, and Learning Organization Governance Structure. During the first quarter, the Universal Training team completed the development and delivery of mandatory Taxpayer Rights Training for all IRS employees. TAS employees provided subject matter expertise both for Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) and training product development. By the end of the first quarter more than 35 percent of all IRS employees have taken the Taxpayer Rights Training.

3
3.

Expand TAS’ use of digital tools to interact with taxpayers, practitioners, and congressional offices.

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) completed training for our offices regarding the use of Digital Upload Tool (DUT) in congressional case work and, separately, we are developing a mail merge letter that will ask taxpayers to supply needed copies of returns to TAS via the DUT. Also, our executives were briefed on the outputs of the Case Advocacy Advance Team and Enterprise Case Management (ECM) leaders will evaluate if Case Advocacy should be added to the backlog of next efforts. Lastly, TAS began a project to adopt Chat technology rolling out in other IRS customer service operations. Chat services can supply more intuitive access to information without the “hold” time required to reach a telephone representative. 

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) has expanded the use and availability of several digital tools with our employees so they can better interact with taxpayers, practitioners, and congressional offices. These include the testing and expansion of the Document Upload Tool (DUT) in our Hartford, CT office. The rollout to other areas will continue throughout the first quarter. Also, IRS’ Enterprise Case Management (ECM) led a team analysis of Case Advocacy needs and opportunities for Case Management, with representatives from TAS and Wage and Investment (W&I) staff involved in call handling, case intake, and case management. Further, TAS monitored ECM progress on components for External Referrals that have potential for reuse in a TAS. Additionally, we continue to monitor the Taxpayer Digital Communication (TDC) implementaion throughout TAS.

4
4.

Identify case process efficiencies, including requesting expansion of our delegated authorities and partnering with Enterprise Case Management (ECM) to modernize processes.

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
The Lean Six Sigma team identified thirty-two case processing improvements and, to date, five of the recommended improvements were enacted by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) and the other 27 are under consideration for implementation.  Also, we shared a proposal recommending three additional improvements, which is under Executive Leadership review. Progress has slowed on the Integrated Automation Technologies (IAT) changes due to budget concerns, the work was temporarily placed on hold; however, all of the requirements have been documented.

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) continually identifies case process efficiencies, including requesting expansion of our delegated authorities and partnering with Enterprise Case Management (ECM) to modernize our processes. We are partnering with the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) team to map our case process steps and identify efficiencies we should implement based on LSS results. Also, we are analyzing our inventory to identify trends and issues in the Pre-Refund Wage Verification (PRVWH) cases and monitoring our inventory of PRVWH cases for any negative impact from COVID-19.

Further, we are implementing several activities to assist in improving our processes including; identifying and addressing the impact of the pandemic on our work processes, improving the Operations Assistance Request (OAR) process by centralizing OAR submissions within the Business Operating Divisions (BODs) to reduce the number of misrouted OARs, tracking the progress of an Integrated Action Tool programming change to properly calculate the Collection Statue Expiration Date (CSED) and correct erroneous accounts, recommending a risk management strategy and plan, and identifying needed delegated authorities for regular use by employees.

5
5.

Update existing Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
​The new Service Level Agreement (SLA) Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is currently in the external clearance process and the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is having ongoing discussions/negotiations with the various Operating Division (ODs).

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) continues to update our Service Level Agreements (SLAs). TAS is collaborating with IRS’ Business Operating Divisions (BODs) and functions to replicate and finalize the existing Service Level Agreements (SLAs) into unique sections within the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM). The new SLA IRM is in the external clearance process.

6
6.

Continue our work with the IRS on the implementation of the unemployment compensation recovery process and ensure the recovery is complete in FY 2022.

Status: Closed
Completion Date: 03/31/2022

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
IRS has no additional systemic recovery data runs planned for adjusting unemployment compensation in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. All planned activities for this objective have been completed.

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) continued working with IRS to implement the unemployment compensation recovery process. We monitored the systemic recovery process for programming or procedural defects, advocated for continued education for taxpayers who filed (or need to file) an amended return for additional credits, deductions, or income, and monitored the downstream effects on other IRS programs related to the unemployment compensation exclusion

7
7.

Work with the IRS to improve awareness and develop a targeted approach for taxpayers for whom Offers in Compromise (OICs) may be a viable option.

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
A potential target group of taxpayers and delivery method have been identified for the Offer in Compromise (OIC) pilot.  These were presented to OIC Policy to determine if they will champion and participate in the pilot.  We will move forward once we receive IRS’ response.

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) continues to collaborate with IRS to improve awareness and develop a targeted approach for taxpayers where Offers in Compromise (OICs) are an option for resolving their tax issues. We reviewed test programs IRS uses to increase OIC receipts, conducted research to identify taxpayer groups who appear to be candidates for OICs, and developed and monitored outreach efforts jointly with IRS. Additionally, TAS started a project proposing TAS Executive review and concurrence to brief OIC Policy and consider a TAS champion pilot if the IRS declines to champion it.

8
8.

Work with the IRS to identify delays and propose recommendations to improve the timely payment of tentative allowances.

Status: Open
Completion Date: TBD

Quarterly Update:
2nd Quarter:
TAS established an Information Gathering Project (IGP) to address items from the 2022 Objectives Report to Congress and the Annual Report to Congress (ARC) 2021 Most Serious Problems (MSP) recommendation calling for IRS to: “Provide weekly filing season reports on IRS.gov about the status of return processing timeframes so taxpayers know what to expect when they file their returns” and to “Implement electronic amended return processing to eliminate the delays caused by traditional paper processing.” All planned activities for this objective have been completed.

1st Quarter:

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) plans to establish an Information Gathering Project (IGP) to assess the adequacy of IRS systems reporting on the status of taxpayer applications for refund and the anticipated delays. TAS collaborated with IRS to identify issues causing delays, expedite relief to taxpayers, propose recommendations, and collaborate on improved timely payments, including monitoring inventory levels for Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, for individuals and Form 1139, Corporation Application for Tentative Refund, for businesses. Additionally, TAS advocated for a dedicated fax line, or other means of delivery to expedite processing of paper forms, recommended IRS assign a specific employee unit to process the forms, and developed a communication strategy to guarantee IRS is transparent and informs taxpayers regarding the status of their application for refund and the anticipated delays.

Additionally, we published the 2021 Annual Report to Congress (ARC) Most Serious Problem (MSP) “Electronic Filing Barriers Increase Taxpayer Burden, Cause Processing Delays, and Waste IRS Resources”, where the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) recommends IRS invest in 2-D bar code technology and enhanced optical character recognition software to expedite and optimize the processing of paper-filed tax returns and forms. Lastly, we monitored Carryback/Carryforward Claims (Net Operating Losses (NOLs) and Forms 1045 and 1139) cases over 45 days old; and evaluated the effect of other issues on the timely processing of claims. Further, TAS established a project to identify delays in the timely payment of tentative refunds. Question: did we mix up Q1 and Q2 information? Or am I just so tired of reading this that I am losing my way …

9
9.

Research the effectiveness of the new Voluntary Disclosure Practice (VDP) and recommend improvements where appropriate.

Status: Closed
Completion Date: 03/31/2022

2nd Quarter: IRS’ issued a News Release on February 15, 2022 (Internal Revenue (IR) 2022-33) announcing the revision of Form 14457, Voluntary Disclosure Practice Preclearance Request and Application, along with improvements addressing many practitioner concerns. These changes should enhance the preclearance processing. Also, the Digital Upload Tool (DUT) will make it easier for taxpayers to submit Form 14457 and accept digital signatures. All planned activities for this objective have been completed.

1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) researched the effectiveness of the new Voluntary Disclosure Practice (VDP) and developed recommendations to improve the process. We maintained an Information Gathering Project (IGP) to monitor issues related to the ending of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) in 2018 and the changes in November 2020 to the Delinquent International Information Return Submission Procedures (DIIRSP).  Although, we have not yet identified issues specific to the program or preclearance process, and most TAS cases in the VDP appear to be due to the general IRS processing delays attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue analyzing data of the VDP accounts opened by IRS’ Examination division since September 2018 and the small percentage of which TAS has a case.

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