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FY 2021 Objectives Report To Congress

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This report to Congress may currently contain some broken hyperlinks. The Taxpayer Advocate Service recently migrated our website to a new digital platform and we are currently working to repair any hyperlinks that may have been affected by the migration. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Report Highlights

“I am proud to advocate for taxpayers’ rights and to work toward improving the taxpayer experience to ensure a fair and just tax administration.”

 

Erin M. Collins, National Taxpayer Advocate

Case Advocacy and TAS Business Objectives: Efforts to Improve Advocacy

TAS serves taxpayers experiencing or about to experience significant economic or irreparable harm as a result of an IRS issue or outstanding liability. TAS works to protect taxpayer rights and help individuals, business owners, and exempt organizations with unresolved tax-related issues.

TAS Case Advocates work directly with taxpayers and representatives to identify issues, research solutions, and advocate on their behalf within the IRS. This includes identifying and proposing solutions for systemic problems affecting many taxpayers across the United States.

Review of the 2020 Filing Season

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s mid-year report typically includes an assessment of the filing season that, in part, measures performance against the results of prior filing seasons. Because the IRS closed most of its operations due to COVID-19 in March and postponed many filing and payment deadlines from April 15 to July 15, this filing season cannot fairly be compared with prior years.

COVID-19 has had and continues to have an enormous impact on the 2020 filing season, reflected in the number of returns received, the volume of correspondence received from taxpayers, and the reduction in toll-free telephone service. Because of the IRS’s limitations and the postponed filing deadline, an assessment of the filing season is necessarily incomplete. The report says TAS may provide a more thorough analysis later.

TAS Research: Identifying Prospective TAS Taxpayers

TAS was created to help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS, protect taxpayer rights, reduce taxpayer burden, and encourage overall service improvement at the IRS. Taxpayers typically seek TAS assistance with specific issues when: 1) they experience a tax problem that causes financial difficulty; 2) they are unable to resolve their issues directly with the IRS through normal channels; or 3) an IRS action or inaction caused or will cause them to suffer a long-term adverse impact, including a violation of taxpayer rights. TAS receives cases through a number of different channels, including referrals from other IRS employees and congressional offices. In fiscal year 2019, TAS received approximately 40 percent of its cases from direct contacts, and 60 percent from referrals from congressional offices and other IRS employees.

While TAS exists to serve all taxpayers, we recognize that there are large numbers of taxpayers across the country with IRS-related issues who do not request TAS assistance. To better serve all taxpayers, TAS has studied taxpayer populations to identify changes over the years and to better understand where TAS should be focusing its resources and outreach and advocacy efforts.

TAS Research: Research Initiatives

Tax research is an important tool in developing knowledge to identify and understand tax administration issues. This knowledge promotes informed decisions and actions and contributes to the IRS’s efficiency. A primary focus of TAS Research is to better understand the consequences of IRS procedures and processes and to evaluate IRS programs by understanding and balancing IRS compliance efforts with taxpayer rights and burdens. TAS will work on several research initiatives in the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2020 and into FY 2021, as discussed in the report.

IRS Responses to Administrative Recommendations Proposed in the National Taxpayer Advocate's 2019 Annual Report to Congress

The National Taxpayer Advocate is required by statute to submit a year-end report to Congress that, among other things, describes the ten most serious problems facing taxpayers and makes administrative recommendations to mitigate those problems. The report includes the IRS’s general responses identified in her 2019 year-end report as well as specific responses to each recommendation. In addition, it contains TAS’s analysis of the IRS’s responses and, in some cases, details TAS’s disagreement with the IRS’s position.