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What should be on the IRS' taxpayer service to-do list?
Also tell the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel how you would improve the IRS

Everybody in the official tax world apparently wants to know what we regular taxpayers think about our tax system and how to improve it.

Uncle sam ideas poster

First it was the Senate Finance Committee seeking public input on tax reform possibilities. Now it's the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) and even Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service itself.

Talking toll-free tax help: First up is the TAP's effort to make getting tax help via telephone more effective.

The Toll-Free Phone Line Project Committee is meeting at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time today, March 18, via teleconference. This panel is dedicated to improving the customer service of the IRS' toll-free phone lines, including the Practitioner Priority Service phone line.

The committee has a tough job. Everyone, even IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, knows the phone help lines are a mess.

But I know these TAP members, like their colleagues on all the volunteer group's other committees, are committed to helping make things better. I speak from experience as a former TAP member.

The TAP teleconference is open to the public. You can get more information by calling Linda Rivera, toll-free of course, at (888) 912-1227 or (202) 317-3337 if you're in the Washington, D.C., area.

If you can't make this call (sorry for the short notice), you can check the TAP online calendar for other teleconferences and public meetings. You're free to drop in if one is in your area.

And you can always submit your suggestions for ways to improve the IRS anytime. Do so via TAP's online Speak Up! comment form, call (888) 912-1227 or mail your ideas to:

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel
1111 Constitution Ave. N.W.
Room 1509
Washington, D.C. 20224

Planning IRS priorities: On a broader scale, the IRS and Treasury Department are welcoming recommendations on what should be their 2015-2016 Priority Guidance Plan.

The Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy and the IRS use the guidance plan each year to identify and prioritize what tax issues should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, and other published administrative guidance. The 2015-2016 plan will identify projects that will be worked on from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.

Basically, it's a look at what the IRS can do to make its and our taxpaying jobs easier without having to wait for congressional statute.

"Published guidance plays an important role in increasing voluntary compliance by helping to clarify ambiguous areas of the tax law," notes the IRS in the announcement soliciting public participation

In determining what makes it into the annual Priority Guidance Plan, tax officials consider, among other things, whether the recommended guidance:

  • Resolves significant issues relevant to many taxpayers
  • Promotes sound tax administration;
  • Can be drafted in a manner that will enable taxpayers to easily understand and apply the guidance;
  • Involves regulations that are outmoded, ineffective, insufficient, or excessively burdensome and that should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed;
  • Reduces controversy and lessens the burden on taxpayers or the IRS.

Although Jane and John Q. Public can submit tax administration recommendations at any time during the year, in order to make it into the 2015-2016 official document you need to get your suggestions in by May 1.

There's no strict submission format, but Treasury and the IRS would appreciate if you would briefly describe and explain the need for your recommended guidance. You also can offer any analysis of how the issue should be resolved. 

If you're suggesting several guidance projects, Treasury and the IRS ask that you prioritize the projects by order of importance, e.g., grouped in terms of high, medium, or low priority.

Delivering your recommendations: You have several options to get your tax suggestions to the IRS and Treasury. 

Mail your comments to: 

Internal Revenue Service
Attn: CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2015-27)
Room 5203
P.O. Box 7604
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, D.C. 20044

Hand deliver your suggestions Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to:

Courier's Desk
Internal Revenue Service
Attn: CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2015-27)
1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20224

Or you can submit recommendations electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at In this case, type IRS-2015-0008 in the search field on the regulations website homepage to find the notice and submit comments.

Also remember that all submissions are public and will be available for public inspection and copying in their entirety. So don't say anything you wouldn't want your mom or dad to read or see reproduced on someone else's blog.

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