National Taxpayer Advocate releases Fiscal Year 2019 Objectives Report to Congress
The National Taxpayer Advocate released her Fiscal Year 2019 Objectives Report to Congress today. In it, she reviews the 2018 filing season, addresses challenges facing the IRS, and identifies TAS’s priority issues for fiscal year (FY) 2019.
Taxpayer Service Challenges
In her preface to the report, the NTA focuses on the IRS’s customer service challenges. She states in the current environment, it is critical for the IRS to direct its resources where they have the greatest positive effect on achieving tax compliance, particularly voluntary tax compliance. Over the long run, voluntary compliance is the least expensive form of compliance to maintain. It is also the least burdensome from the taxpayer’s perspective. Importantly, voluntary tax compliance is heavily linked to customer service and the customer experience.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
The NTA states that the most significant challenge the IRS faces in the upcoming year is implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), which among other things requires programming an estimated 140 systems, writing or revising some 450 forms and publications, and issuing guidance on dozens of TCJA provisions. She reiterates her longstanding concern that IRS funding reductions have undermined the agency’s ability to provide high-quality taxpayer service and to modernize its aging information technology infrastructure.
Priority Issues for FY 2019
The report identifies and discusses 12 priority issues TAS plans to focus on during the upcoming fiscal year. The top five include implementation of the TCJA, the effectiveness of IRS service channels in meeting taxpayer needs, the development of an integrated case management system, the impact of high false-positive rates on legitimate taxpayers, and the protection of taxpayers facing financial hardship from IRS and private debt collection activities.
Volume 2: IRS Responses to TAS Recommendations
The NTA is required by statute to submit a year-end report to Congress that, among other things, describes at least 20 of the most serious problems facing taxpayers and makes administrative recommendations to mitigate those problems. The report released today includes a second volume containing the IRS’s general responses to each of the problems the Advocate identified in her 2017 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.
New TAS Website to Help Taxpayers Understand Tax Reform Changes
In light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, TAS has launched a new website, Tax Reform Changes, that lists key tax return items under current law (2017), shows which ones have been impacted by the TCJA, and illustrates how the changes will be reflected on tax year 2018 returns filed in 2019. Taxpayers can navigate the website by viewing key tax return topics or seeing them illustrated on a 2017 Form 1040. The line-by-line explanations allow taxpayers to see how the new law may change their tax filings and to consider how to plan for these changes. The website will incorporate updated information as it becomes available. Taxpayers and professionals can sign up to receive email notifications when updates occur. If a taxpayer determines the TCJA will impact his or her tax liability, he or she should make withholding adjustments by filing a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with employers.
Check out the full report on the TAS website.