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Published:   |   Last Updated: February 9, 2024

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Celebrates 20 Years of Making the IRS Work Better for You

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It gives me great pride and joy to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel!

This year, the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) marks a major milestone – two decades of advancing its mission of improving IRS customer service and administrative processes for U.S. taxpayers nationwide and abroad. With the challenges of the past few years, the dedicated work of our TAP volunteers is more important than ever to help identify and prioritize initiatives to modernize the IRS, improve customer service, and protect taxpayer rights.

To give a brief history, TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee established in 2002 under the authority of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Over the past 20 years, TAP has worked with over 700 citizen volunteers who have submitted more than 2,200 recommendations to the IRS to help them improve services for taxpayers. Every year, each TAP member must be willing to spend 200-300 hours working on finding solutions to a variety of issues that directly impact taxpayers. While the Taxpayer Advocate Service provides essential funding, technical, administrative, and clerical support to TAP, it is the more than 200,000 volunteer hours that serve as the heartbeat of this important group.

This diverse group of citizen volunteers come with a wide range of expertise and from backgrounds such as health care, real estate, higher education, military service, local government, and tax return preparation. No matter their locations or backgrounds, there is one thing that unites them all – a patriotic duty to serve and make the IRS work better for all taxpayers. TAP represents taxpayers from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad.

“What I enjoy about being part of TAP is being able to serve others. Being a part of a diverse group of people that come together as a team to facilitate change is a great accomplishment. TAP members and staff make a difference in many different ways.”

Martha Lewis, 2022 National TAP Chair

Through their grassroots outreach efforts, TAP members serve as listening posts in their communities and then work directly with the IRS to provide local input on critical tax-related issues. The IRS has made a commitment to listen to the ideas from TAP members and partner with them to look for ways to ensure an efficient and well-regarded taxation system for all taxpayers. As the IRS works to understand how to do a better job of meeting taxpayers’ needs, it needs to hear directly from taxpayers – and TAP is that voice.

TAP’s recommendations have resulted in many improvements to IRS tax forms, instructions, and publications that have helped make these documents easier for taxpayers to understand. Some other successes stemming from recommendations submitted from TAP committees over the past 20 years include:

  • The Notices and Correspondence Committee reviewed various IRS notices and made recommendations to implement consistent language regarding payment, assessment of interest, and penalties on CP14 and CP14H notices about installment agreements.
  • The Special Projects Committee recommended the expansion of search terms that are used by taxpayers looking for information in the search box on IRS.gov.
  • The Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) Committee recommended taxpayers visiting a TAC without an appointment be afforded the opportunity to be seen under the TAC Appointment Exception procedures.
  • The Taxpayer Communications Committee reviewed various tools used by the IRS to communicate the availability of various products and services offered on IRS.gov.
  • The Toll-Free Lines Committee has provided numerous suggestions to enhance customer service for taxpayers calling the IRS. Since 2016, this committee has called on the IRS to implement customer callback services on toll-free lines. After years of advocacy on this issue, the IRS has started the process of making callback technology available on some of their phone lines. Additionally, the IRS implemented recommendations from the Toll-Free Lines Committee to improve the after-hours toll-free script the IRS uses when the office is closed.
  • The Tax Form and Publications Committee continued to review various tax forms, instructions, and publications to provide suggestions to better meet the needs of taxpayers. The committee has provided comments to improve the Form 1040 and instructions which has helped to improve the overall clarity.

TAP looks for new Advocates of Change every year. YOU too can make a difference by becoming a member of TAP – learn about the application process. The recruitment period for new members will open next spring.

“I joined to make a difference, and I did. That’s very rewarding.”

Dr. Eugene Lillie, 2022 National TAP Vice-Chair

Another way you can effect change is by submitting a recommendation to improve an IRS service or administrative process. Remember, change starts with each and every one of us – as we say in TAP, “Speak Up.”

Again, I would like to congratulate all the current and former TAP members for 20 years of extraordinary service in effecting change and to TAP staff who keep the wheels turning year after year. Job well done! On behalf of the taxpayers across this country and abroad, we thank you for your dedication and commitment to making the IRS work better for all.

To read more about TAP, please visit www.improveirs.org.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.

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