NTA releases FY2018 Objectives Report

June 28, 2017

Today the National Taxpayer Advocate released her Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Objectives Report to Congress, identifying the priority issues she and TAS will address during FY 2018.

In her preface to the report, the National Taxpayer Advocate praised the IRS for a generally successful filing season, but indicated that taxpayers who require assistance from the IRS are continuing to face significant challenges obtaining service. While taxpayer services and enforcement activities are both essential for effective tax administration, the National Taxpayer Advocate says taxpayer services require more emphasis than they are currently receiving. She points out that more than 60 percent of the IRS budget is allocated to enforcement activities while only about 4 percent is allocated for taxpayer outreach and education. The report elaborates on taxpayer service limitations, particularly involving outreach and education:

“As of September 30, 2016, the IRS dedicated only 98 employees to conducting education and outreach to the 62 million small business and self-employed taxpayers, and only 365 employees to conducting education and outreach to the nearly 125 million individual taxpayers.  There are 14 states that have no Stakeholder Liaison employees who conduct outreach to small business and self-employed taxpayers.  The number of TACs is declining each year, and because of the IRS’s new appointment-only system, taxpayers who show up without an appointment are routinely turned away.  The TACs have completely stopped offering free tax preparation for low income, elderly, and disabled taxpayers and . . . [they] will not answer “out-of-scope” tax law questions during the filing season and will not answer any tax law questions outside the filing season.”

The National Taxpayer Advocate recommends that the IRS expand its outreach and education activities and improve its telephone service and that Congress provide the IRS with sufficient funding to do so.

Priority Issues for FY 2018

The statutorily mandated mid-year report also identifies and discusses 13 priority issues that TAS will address during the coming FY, including Private Debt Collection Implementation, U.S. Passport Revocations and Denials, Transparency in the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs, IRS’s approach to international tax administration, options to improve the administration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the IRS’s continuing information technology challenges, particularly in developing an enterprise-wide case management case and other priorities.  

The full Objectives Report explores these and other issues that the National Taxpayer Advocate intends to address in the coming year.

Volume Two

Volume Two of the report contains the IRS’s responses to the administrative recommendations the National Taxpayer Advocate made in her 2016 Annual Report to Congress, along with additional TAS comments.  

“Both people who work in the field of tax administration and taxpayers generally can benefit greatly from reading the agency responses to our report,” Ms. Olson said.  “Tax administration is a complex field with many trade-offs required.  Reading both my office’s critique and IRS’s responses in combination will provide readers with a broader perspective on key issues, the IRS’s rationale for its policies and procedures, and alternative options TAS recommends.”

You can read more thoughts from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson on her personal blog about the 2018 Objectives Report.