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Prologue

The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Preface describes many of the challenges taxpayers faced this year. The Prologue also includes a Taxpayer Rights and Service Assessment measuring how the agency is doing in protecting and furthering taxpayers rights and service while driving voluntary compliance.

Preface: Introductory Remarks by the National Taxpayer Advocate

Section 7803(c)(2)(B)(ii) of the Internal Revenue Code requires the National Taxpayer Advocate to submit this report each year and in it, among other things, to identify the ten most serious problems encountered by taxpayers and make administrative and legislative recommendations to mitigate those problems. In each of the ten Most Serious Problem discussions in this report, we are including an IRS narrative response. Our intent is to help readers see both TAS’s perspective and the IRS’s perspective on the source and nature of key challenges and potential solutions.

The main focus of this year’s report is the elephant in the room – the continuing customer service challenges taxpayers are experiencing and the negative impact of the filing season backlog. Last year, I reported that the period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most challenging that taxpayers and tax professionals have ever faced. The bad news is that taxpayers and tax professionals experienced more misery in 2022. The good news is that since the close of the 2022 filing season, the IRS has made considerable progress in reducing the volume of unprocessed returns and correspondence. We have begun to see light at the end of the tunnel. I am just not sure how much further we need to travel before we see sunlight.

As we enter 2023, the IRS must focus its resources on its core taxpayer service mission – processing tax returns, paying refunds, answering and addressing telephone calls, and providing in-person assistance to taxpayers who seek it. It is crucial that the IRS eliminate the filing season backlog once and for all. With the additional funding the IRS has received and the Direct Hire Authority provided by Congress and the Office of Personnel Management, the IRS is hiring and training more personnel to provide much-needed relief and assistance to taxpayers. But it still will take time until that relief materializes and taxpayers and tax professionals see the benefits. Being transparent and managing expectations will be important to regain public trust.

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Taxpayer Rights and Service Assessment: IRS Performance Measures and Data Relating to Taxpayer Rights and Service

The Taxpayer Rights and Service Assessment has provided the IRS, Congress, and other stakeholders with a “report card” to measure how the agency is doing in protecting and furthering taxpayer rights and service while driving voluntary compliance. The Taxpayer First Act (TFA), passed in 2019, requires the IRS to include in its written comprehensive customer service strategy “identified metrics and benchmarks for quantitatively measuring the progress of the Internal Revenue Service in implementing such strategy.” Taxpayer customer service and taxpayer rights are inextricably linked, as evidenced by the right to quality service. The Taxpayer Rights Assessment will allow the IRS to identify areas where it must improve and measure the success of specific changes by comparing data before and after implementing the new customer service strategy. TAS looks forward to working with the IRS on the TFA implementation and future measures.

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