Taxpayer Advocacy Feed

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson makes a point about private tax debt collection during a May 23 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. (Click image to watch the official video.) National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has long been an opponent of turning over taxpayer accounts to collection agencies. That's still the case, according to her mid-year report presented today to Congress. The latest private tax debt collection effort tops the list of 13 priorities that the Taxpayer Advocate's Service will focus on during the coming 2018 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Specifically, Olson says she and her staff are... Read more →

Many professional tax preparers say that giving the Internal Revenue Service added regulatory ability over their jobs isn't warranted. The tax agency and Trump Administration disagree. (Photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr CC) The Trump Administration has continued the current trend of cutting the Internal Revenue Service's annual operating funds, but a provision in the new White House's fiscal year 2018 budget also could solve a new IRS problem. On June 1, the Internal Revenue Service got the bad news from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that the tax agency can't collect fees from... Read more →

The National Taxpayer Advocate is not giving up on her quest to ensure that digital enhancements to Internal Revenue Service efforts are just that and not replacements for current, lower-tech taxpayer service offerings. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson discussed IRS customer service in March in advance of the April filing deadline. Click image to watch the full video at C-SPAN. Nina E. Olson has previously raised questions about increased computerization of IRS customer service options. She's concerned that those not comfortable with conducting business on a computer or other digital device will be inconvenienced or worse. Those with limited... Read more →

Early in my career of writing about taxes my shelves and desk and file cabinets and office floor were covered in tax-related magazines, books, brochures and Internal Revenue Service issued tax booklets and forms. Now it's my email box that's overflowing. The world, including the tax world, has gone more digital. Although, as that photo at left shows, I still have plenty of actual tax and finance books (including -- shameless plug alert -- my "Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and the "Future Millionaires' Guidebook" that some of my Bankrate colleagues and I wrote) in my office. One group, however,... Read more →

Tax crooks just never stop. Now they're invoking the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) in a phishing scam. Real Taxpayer Advocacy Panel members at work. From left, TAP member Eileen Kelly, TAP Analyst Patti Robb, Local Taxpayer Advocate Barbara Johnson, and TAP members Jack Dell and Jackie Granger meet in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to discuss ways to improve the IRS. (Photo courtesy TAP 2012 Annual Report; click image for links to recent TAP reports) TAP, on which I had the honor to serve, is a group of around 75+/- volunteers who work to help improve IRS customer service and responsiveness to taxpayer... Read more →

We give the Internal Revenue Service an incredible amount of personal data. Our Social Security numbers. Our earnings amounts. Our family information. That's why folks are, rightfully, freaking out about the amount of tax identity theft out there. But in addition to crooks getting their hands on our assorted personal, tax and financial data, there's also a legitimate concern about how the IRS handles all our private information during its routine operation. Taking care of TBOR: The agency is trying assuage some of those worries by emphasizing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) and how it protects taxpayer privacy. In... Read more →

What's the biggest hassle, aside from complex tax laws, that you face in trying to do your taxes? The National Taxpayer Advocate believes it's the Internal Revenue Service's increasing efforts to make most taxpayer interaction interactive. National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson is required by law to include in her Annual Report to Congress a summary of at least 20 of the most serious problems that taxpayers face. Given how taxpayer troubles have increased over the years, be they from inappropriate or inept IRS actions or because the agency is understaffed and underfunded, it's no surprise that in her 2015 report,... Read more →

I'm a big believer in lists. I can't grocery shop without my piece of paper detailing all the edibles the hubby and I need or want. Yes, I still buy things that don't make the list, but if I forget it, I always have to make another trip to pick up a critical comestible I forgot. Yes, that's my current grocery list on an Earned Income Tax Credit notepad I picked up at an IRS Nationwide Tax Forum. No judging, please, of our food choices. I also keep track of my story assignments via a computer spreadsheet, as well as... Read more →

Every day seems to bring a new report of another security breach that exposes millions to potential identity theft. Even Uncle Sam is not immune, as evidenced by hackers getting hold of Office of Personnel Management records and taxpayer data from the Internal Revenue Service's online "Get Transcript" option. Now we have yet another report from folks on the tax front line as to just how widespread tax identity theft is. Sixty-three percent of CPAs who responded to the survey in May said that at least one of their clients was a victim of tax identity theft during the just... Read more →

"The 2015 filing season was akin to A Tale of Two Cities. For the majority of taxpayers who filed their returns and did not require IRS assistance, the filing season was generally successful. For the segment of taxpayers who required help from the IRS, the filing season was by far the worst in memory." That comment was National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson getting all literary in her 2015 mid-year report to Congress. If you prefer a celluloid take on Charles Dickens' classic novel about politics, class conflicts, sacrifice and, yes, love amid the French Revolution, click the screen shot... Read more →

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

Ready to file your 2014 tax return? Have adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less? Then check out Free File tomorrow. That's right. The Internal Revenue Service's free online tax preparation and e-filing option opens for business Friday, Jan. 16. That's four days before the IRS starts accepting and processing all other 2014 returns, be they e-filed with commercial tax software or submitted on paper. The free online filing partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance is back for its 13th tax-filing service. It was started in 2003 as a way to get more people to e-file. It... Read more →

It's a busy weekend, what with Flag Day and Father's Day and some personal things to take care of, so I'm cutting to the chase with my regular look at noted last week at my other tax blog. First came the news that the Internal Revenue Service has officially adopted a Taxpayer Bill of Rights. This has been a long-time goal of National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who joined IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to announce the move. Both also used the opportunity to send a message to Congress. The IRS can do a better job of providing customer, i.e., taxpayer,... Read more →

The Internal Revenue Service today officially adopted a 10-point Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Too bad for the tax agency that it wasn't put in place sooner. The National Taxpayer Advocate says that the document could have helped IRS employees avoid problems in their review of Tea Party and other organizations' applications for nonprofit tax status. The rights, already guaranteed taxpayers but spread throughout the Internal Revenue Code (and IRS documents), are now conveniently encapsulated in the updated IRS Publication 1. It says all taxpayers have the right to: Be Informed, Quality Service, Pay No More than the Correct Amount of... Read more →

It's no secret that tax filing season is tax scam season. It starts in January as the first group of taxpayers, eager for their refunds, flood Internal Revenue Service offices with their returns. And as the Internal Revenue Service's annual list of the Dirty Dozen tax scams underscores, crooks employ many creative schemes to steal our identities and our tax dollars. So it worth repeating in today's Daily Tax Tip to be careful out there as you file your return or wait for your refund. In fact, the IRS last week announced a new tax scam in which identity thieves... Read more →

Maybe the National Taxpayer Advocate's recommendations came too late in the budgeting process. Or maybe members of Congress just like whacking the most hated federal agency with a fiscal bludgeon. Whatever the reason, the Internal Revenue Service is going to have to make do with less money in fiscal year 2014 under the omnibus budget bill worked out this week on Capitol Hill. UPDATE: The House passed the spending bill Wednesday, Jan. 15, afternoon by a bipartisan 359-to-67 margin. It now awaits Senate action. And that means all of us taxpayers will probably suffer at least a little bit this... Read more →

I'm a big believer in you get what you pay for. Apparently, so is National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. Olson this week released her annual report to Congress. In the yearly analysis, the Internal Revenue Service's internal watchdog details at least 20 of the biggest problems that taxpayers face. For 2013, Olson enumerated 25 taxpayer troubles. And she put the inability to get good service from the IRS near the top of her latest list. One of the most frustrating taxpayer-IRS interactions is telephone service. Folks seeking answers via phone are getting worse service now. And why is there such... Read more →

If you're of a certain age, you remember what it was like when you got back to work after taking off a week or two. You were swamped. In those days, we didn't have cell phones or Internet access to email boxes or even email boxes. Things literally just piled up, waiting for us to return to our desks. Yes, I know, alphabet generation. It was the technological the stone age. Well, that's essentially what the 86,000 or so Internal Revenue Service employees who were forced out of their offices for 16 days are dealing with right now. The returning... Read more →

Would a $1,000 payoff make you quit complaining about mistreatment by the Internal Revenue Service? That's an idea National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson has revived in her 2013 mid-year report to Congress. The statutorily mandated report spells out the priority issues that the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will address during the upcoming fiscal year. In this latest issues assessment, Olson adds her thoughts to the continuing investigation into the IRS' handling of applications for 510(c)(4) tax-exempt status. This designation is sought by groups to save them tax payments and also keep their donors secret. But to qualify, most of their... Read more →

Filing season 2013 is here, sort of. And while no tax season is easy, this year's has its own special complications that I examined last week at my other tax blog. Since Congress waited until Jan. 1, 2013, to approve a variety of tax laws that apply to the 2012 tax year, it was no big surprise that there would be a slight delay in filing federal tax returns. The question then became just when would taxpayers, especially those who are depending on refunds, be able to submit their 1040s? The IRS' answer: It would start accepting 2012 tax returns... Read more →