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National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Reports On The IRS Challenges Implementing Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

Nina Olson, Report on Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson today released her mid-year report to Congress that presents a review of the 2018 Filing Season, identifies issues the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) will address during the upcoming fiscal year, and contains IRS responses to the 100 administrative recommendations the NTA made in her 2017 Annual Report to Congress.

The most significant challenge the IRS faces in the upcoming year is implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). Olson expresses confidence that the IRS will implement the law successfully. “I have no doubt the IRS will deliver what it has been asked to do,” she writes.

However, she reiterates her concern that IRS funding reductions have undermined the agency’s ability to provide high-quality taxpayer service and modernize its information technology infrastructure. The report finds that IRS funding has been reduced by 20 percent since fiscal year (FY) 2010. “Because of these reductions, the IRS doesn’t have enough employees to provide basic taxpayer service.”


In the report, Olson focuses on the IRS’s customer service challenges. The IRS utilizes narrow performance measures that suggest the agency is performing well but do not reflect the taxpayer experience. For example, the IRS reports it achieved a “Level of Service” on its toll-free telephone lines of 80 percent during the 2018 filing season, indicating IRS telephone assistors answered 80 percent of taxpayer calls. In fact, IRS telephone assistor’s answered only 29 percent of the calls.

The report highlights recommendations the NTA has made to improve customer service:


  • Adopt robust performance measures that more accurately reflect taxpayer experience.
  • Provide taxpayers with modernized “omnichannel” services to obtain assistance online, by phone, or in-person.
  • Accelerate the development of an integrated case management system.
  • Increase geographic presence because personal contacts produce better response, resolution, and agreement rates.


The report identifies 12 priority issues TAS will focus on in FY19. The top five include implementation of the TCJA, effectiveness of IRS service channels, development of an integrated case management system, impact of high false-positive rates on legitimate taxpayers, and protection of taxpayers facing financial hardship from IRS and private debt collection activities.


The NTA is required to submit a year-end report to Congress describing at least 20 of the most serious problems facing taxpayers and making administrative recommendations to mitigate those problems. Today’s report includes a second volume containing the IRS’s general responses to each of the problems identified in the 2017 report and responses to each recommendation. It also contains TAS’s analysis of the IRS’s responses and, in some cases, details TAS’s disagreement with the IRS.


In light of the TCJA, TAS today 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.


TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that can help protect your taxpayer rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a hardship or if you’ve tried but haven’t been able to resolve your problem with the IRS. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit or call 1-877-777-4778.



Nina Olson

Nina Olson

Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), is the voice of the taxpayer within the IRS and before Congress. She leads the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization inside the IRS that helps taxpayers resolve problems and works for systemic change to mitigate problems experienced by groups of taxpayers.

One thought on “National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Reports On The IRS Challenges Implementing Tax Cuts And Jobs Act

  1. Avatar Arlene K. Mose, CPA says:

    I just spoke to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate line. My taxpayer’s 2016 was “dead-ended” because the return did not include two of the estimated payments on the return. The IRS Rep told me that anytime the payments don’t match, the IRS will dead-end the return and not post it to the system. The IRS sent a CP12 letter (stating don’t file, don’t amend, just respond) I responded. Now we are getting CP59 letters stating the return has not been filed. THE CORRECT PHRASE IS NOT POSTED. I can’t refill electronically because I already have a SUBMISSION ID NUMBER. Can this info be accurate. That means every taxpayer over 65 will have their tax return dead-ended because old people can’t remember what and when they paid stuff. Can you please clarify this policy. I was told it has been in effect for 3 years already. THIS IS THE FIRST I HAVE HEARD OF IT.

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