NTA Blog: A Few Thoughts About The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Fiscal Year 2019 Objectives Report

June 27, 2018

Subscribe to the NTA’s Blog and receive updates on the latest blog posts from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson. Additional blogs from the National Taxpayer Advocate can be found at www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/blog.

In lieu of posting a blog this week I would ask that you check out my June Report to Congress instead. In my preface you will find some extraordinary information, statistics, and discussion about the IRS’s present state, including customer service – as well as suggestions on how to get where the IRS should be. The report also identifies and discusses 12 priority issues my office plans to focus on during the upcoming fiscal year. The Top 5 include implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 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.

As many of you who follow my blog know, I am 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. Once the December report is published, I send the recommendations to the Commissioner, and he has 90 days to respond, in writing, to let us know whether the IRS agrees or disagrees with our recommendations. The report I am issuing today includes a second volume containing the IRS’s general responses to each of the problems I have identified in my 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. I truly believe that both people who work in the field of tax administration and taxpayers generally can benefit greatly from reading the agency responses to our report. Tax administration is a complex field with many trade-offs required. Reading the IRS’s responses and my office’s critique in combination will provide you with a broader perspective on key issues, the IRS’s rationale for its policies and procedures, and alternative options TAS recommends. The report format provides greater transparency to tax administration and furthers the taxpayer’s right to be informed.

And last, but not least, in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Taxpayer Advocate Service has created an innovative and interactive Tax Reform Changes website that identifies key tax return items under current law (2017) and shows the TCJA changes that took effect for 2018 regarding these key items and will be reflected on tax returns filed in early 2019. We’ve designed it so taxpayers can also see what items have not changed – my discussions with taxpayers over the last few months have shown they need this information as well. Taxpayers can navigate the website by tax topic or by reviewing a 2017 Form 1040 line by line to see how the new law may change their tax filings and allow them to consider how they want to plan for these changes. The website has been designed to incorporate updated information as it becomes available. Taxpayers and professionals can sign up for alerts for new information updates. I’m very excited about this user-friendly website and enormously proud of my staff for pulling this together so quickly! And finally, as we come to better understand these tax law changes I want to underscore to all taxpayers, if you determine the tax changes will impact your tax liability, then withholding adjustments should be made by filing a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, with employers.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The National Taxpayer Advocate is appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury and reports to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. However, the National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.