National Taxpayer Advocate 2019 Purple Book Introduction

Full NTA Purple Book Introduction

The National Taxpayer Advocate Purple Book presents a concise summary of 58 legislative recommendations intended to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration. Most of the recommendations presented in the Purple Book have been made in detail in our prior reports, but others are presented in this report for the first time.

In last year's Purple Book, we made 50 legislative recommendations. One, a proposal to hold taxpayers harmless when the IRS improperly levies on a retirement account, was enacted into law. At least 20 others were included in comprehensive tax administration bills-notably, H.R. 5444, the Taxpayer First Act, which the House passed on a vote of 414-0; S. 3246, also known as the Taxpayer First Act, which was co-sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden; and S. 3278, the Protecting Taxpayers Act, which was introduced by Senator Portman and Senator Cardin, who two decades ago were the House sponsors of the landmark IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998.

The Purple Book is designed to assist the tax-writing committees and Members of Congress by identifying legislative changes we believe would better protect taxpayer rights and improve tax administration. We have aimed to make it as user friendly as possible. Each proposal is presented in a format similar to the one used for congressional committee reports, with "Present Law," "Reasons for Change," and "Recommendation(s)" sections.

At the end of each proposal, we identify bills that have been introduced in the House or Senate that are our consistent with it. In a separate chart, we list additional reference material to assist those interested in learning more about a recommendation. Thus, we identify prior legislative language so that a Member of Congress interested in sponsoring similar legislation can use or refine existing language rather than having to reinvent the wheel.

It has now been more than 20 years since the enactment of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, and over that period, we have had ample time to assess the impact of its provisions. Most changes have stood the test of time well, but some require tweaking. In addition, tax administration has changed in many ways, partly due to the increasing use of automation by the IRS and the increasing use of the internet and other digital services by taxpayers.

For these reasons, we are very much encouraged by the congressional interest in examining the current state of tax administration and developing legislation to improve it. We believe most of the recommendations presented in the Purple Book are non-controversial, common sense reforms that will strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.

Read the full National Taxpayer Advocate 2019 Purple Book