The Taxpayer Advocate Service told Congress this week that the office has been excluded from IRS efforts to carry out reforms mandated by the Taxpayer First Act, which was enacted last year.
The law includes a number of far-reaching reforms of the IRS aimed at improving customer service, modernizing the agency’s information technology and strengthening taxpayers’ recourses in enforcement cases. The IRS said last month that implementing these reforms is the agency’s top priority in 2020. The agency created a new office of about 20 IRS employees in August to help guide the implementation plan.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent office within the IRS that serves as the internal watchdog for the agency and makes recommendations to Congress about how the IRS could better serve taxpayers. The office was led by Nina Olson from 2001 until her retirement last year, but no permanent successor has been named by the Treasury Department. Acting Taxpayer Advocate Bridget Roberts released the office’s annual report to Congress this week saying that TAS employees have been excluded from the core implementation group.
“Given the current crossroads at which the IRS finds itself, it is critical that a permanent National Taxpayer Advocate be appointed as quickly as possible to help ensure the IRS protects taxpayer rights and meets its obligations to taxpayers,” Roberts wrote.
That sentiment was echoed this week by top Ways and Means Democrats. “This will be the first filing season the IRS will start without a permanent National Taxpayer Advocate in place in nearly 20 years,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) said.