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The Internal Revenue Code requires the National Taxpayer Advocate to prepare an Annual Report to Congress that contains a summary of at least 20 of the most serious problems (MSPs) encountered by taxpayers. For 2013, the National Taxpayer Advocate identified, analyzed, and offered recommendations to assist the IRS and Congress in resolving 25 such problems. Unlike previous Annual Reports, the 2013 document did not include the IRS’s responses to the Most Serious Problem analyses and the National Taxpayer Advocate’s comments on those responses.

This change was necessary in part so the report could be issued as close as possible to the December 31 statutory deadline, given the 16-day government shutdown last fall, which hit at a particularly crucial time in the editing and review schedule. This change in approach, however, also brought us into conformity with the governing statutory language, which requires the National Taxpayer Advocate to submit her reports “directly” to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance, “without any prior review or comment from the Commissioner” or others. The Commissioner’s response is required within three months from when it is submitted to the commissioner.

The IRS’s formal responses to our recommendations, together with the National Taxpayer Advocate’s analysis of and comments on the responses, are presented here in the Objectives Report to Congress. In this way, we retain full transparency regarding the IRS’s perspective on our recommendations to address the Most Serious Problems while still complying with the statutory protections.