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Tag Archive for National Taxpayer Advocate

Implementation Of New TAS Case Acceptance Procedures For Theft Refund Fraud Cases

National Taxpayer Advocate On Fraud

The IRS uses certain “filters” to detect and prevent tax refund fraud. While these filters do stop a substantial amount of fraud, they also flag hundreds of thousands of returns each year that turn out to be legitimate. This causes refund delays and often creates financial hardships. Notably, the filters have produced a dramatic increase in the number of taxpayers seeking TAS assistance. TAS’s non-identity theft refund fraud case receipts have increased nearly five-fold over the past three years – from about 18,500 cases in calendar year (CY) 2017 to about 92,000 in CY 2019. Moreover, about 72 percent of the case receipts for CY 2019 were accepted under TAS’s “economic hardship” criteria. I wrote about this issue in a Most Serious Problem in my 2019 Annual Report to Congress.

Some background: The IRS’s Return Integrity Verification Operations (RIVO) function operates filters designed to identify suspected identity theft and other non-identify theft related instances of fraud. One of these filters is designed to identify cases where a taxpayer files a fraudulent return in his or her own name (e.g., the taxpayer claims his employer withheld $7,000 in federal tax when the employer only withheld $3,000, which, if not detected, would cause the taxpayer to receive a refund of $4,000 more than the correct amount). This non-identity theft filter is operated, in IRS parlance, by the “Pre-Refund Wage Verification Hold” (PRWVH) program.
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The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Is Now Recruiting Volunteers Of Citizens

National Taxpayer Advocate Recruiting Volunteers

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. We take this statement seriously, as demonstrated by the work we do to help taxpayers resolve their tax problems. We do more than resolve problems, however. Part of our mission is to recommend changes that will prevent problems in the future. And in keeping with that part of our mission, we provide oversight and support for the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a federal advisory committee made up of citizens that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns, and makes recommendations for improving IRS customer service and customer satisfaction.

The panel, established in 2002, consists of about 75 volunteers. To the extent possible, TAP members come from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In addition, one member represents U.S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory other than Puerto Rico. To be a member of TAP, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be current with federal tax obligations, and pass a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background check. Members cannot be federally registered lobbyists. In addition, current Department of the Treasury and IRS employees cannot serve on the panel, and former Department of the Treasury or IRS employees and former TAP members must have a three-year separation from their service to be eligible for appointment. Tax practitioner applicants must be in good standing with the IRS (meaning not currently under suspension or disbarment).
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Local Taxpayer Advocates Describe Most Serious Problems Experienced By Taxpayers

NATIONAL TAXPAYER ADVOCATE

During February, Taxpayer Advocates Service’s Local Taxpayer Advocates (LTAs) are in Washington, D.C., presenting the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2019 Annual Report to Senators and House Members whose local offices they serve.

The law requires TAS to place at least one LTA in every state to assist taxpayers who are experiencing problems with the IRS. Over the past seven years, TAS has received an annual average of about 218,000 cases, and an annual average of about 15,000 of these cases (roughly seven percent), have been referred by congressional offices.

To facilitate coordination, TAS pairs every Senate and House office with an LTA office within the state the Senator or House member represents. LTAs work with congressional offices by sharing information about trends they are seeing in their casework and by partnering with them to disseminate information about filing deadlines, changes in the law, and other information that may be useful for taxpayers.

Once a year, typically around the first week of February, our Local Taxpayer Advocates go to Washington for our “Congressional Affairs Program.” During this “CAP” conference, they receive training on technical issues that they bring back to their local offices and teach to the case advocates they supervise, and they visit the Washington offices of the Senators and House members whose local offices they assist.
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NTA: Sharing Economy Tax Information

NATIONAL TAXPAYER ADVOCATE

Many taxpayers work or engage in services that are considered to be a part of the gig or shared economy services. These services often originate through peer-to-peer interactions such as ride-share programs, room rentals, and other freelance work.

Following the May 2016 hearing, Taxpayer Advocate Service worked with the IRS to create the information contained on the pages listed below to help you navigate the tax responsibilities which may apply when you work in the gig economy environment.

IRS Sharing Economy Tax Center
Watch video from the May 2016 House Small Business Committee testimony on the Sharing Economy: A Taxing Experience for New Entrepreneurs, Part I and Part II.

Related Articles: Self Employment Taxes

How To Confirm The Identity Of An Internal Revenue Service Field Revenue Officer If They Come Knocking At Your Door

IRS Visits Your Home

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun conducting face-to-face meetings with individual and business taxpayers as a part of a special compliance effort entitled Revenue Officer Compliance Sweep (ROCS). This is an extremely high priority effort where IRS field revenue officers (RO’s) will be working to resolve compliance issues, including missing tax returns and taxes owed, with a special emphasis on payroll taxes.

The RO’s will visit areas where there is little to no IRS presence. They will interview taxpayers while gathering financial information to help them become compliant now and remain so in the future. The new effort began Wisconsin, Texas, and Arkansas and will eventually rollout nationwide.

To avoid confusion with IRS scam artists and other imposters, the IRS will announce general details about these efforts in specific locations as an important step to raise community awareness around IRS activity during a specified time.

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IRS Publication Error May Have Caused Certain Married Taxpayers Filing Separately To Fail To File Required Tax Returns

TAS’s statutory mission is to resolve problems taxpayers encounter as a result of the way the IRS administers the nation’s tax code. In this blog, I would like to call attention to TAS’s efforts to correct an error in an IRS publication that may have led some taxpayers with a filing requirement to fail to file their returns.

Under section 6012(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), the filing threshold for married taxpayers filing separate returns from their spouses is the personal exemption amount, which was $4,050 in tax year (TY) 2017. In December 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) suspended the personal exemption for TYs 2018-2025 (effectively reducing it to zero). As a result, taxpayers using this filing status face a filing requirement regardless of whether they worked or earned income in TYs 2018-2025. In light of Congressional intent underlying the TCJA, the IRS provided relief to married taxpayers filing separately by setting the filing requirement at $5. Both the IRS web site and the 2018 Instructions to Form 1040 indicate that a married filing separately taxpayer must file a tax return if the individual’s gross income is at least $5.

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National Taxpayer Advocate: Planning To Travel Outside The U.S. This Year? Don’t Risk A Passport Revocation

National Taxpayer Advocate

The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to resolve their significant tax debts, $50,000 or more, to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy. If you owe $50,000 or more and haven’t made payment arrangements, please contact the IRS now to avoid travel delays later.

Why is the State Department allowed to limit or revoke my passport due to unpaid taxes?

In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That act authorized the IRS to certify to the State Department taxpayers who owe a seriously delinquent tax debt. A seriously delinquent tax debt is an unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $50,000 (Please note that this amount is adjusted annually for inflation.) for which a notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or a levy has been issued. The IRS began certifying these debts to the State Department in 2018. Under the law, the State Department must deny your passport application and may revoke or limit your passport if the IRS has certified you as having a seriously delinquent tax debt. A seriously delinquent tax debt does not include non-tax debts collected by the IRS, such as the FBAR penalty and child support.

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National Taxpayer Advocate Objectives Report Features IRS Responses To Most Serious Problems (Volume 2)

National Taxpayer Advocate

Each December, the National Taxpayer Advocate identifies the Most Serious Problems facing taxpayers and makes recommendations for addressing them in the Annual Report to Congress (ARC). Each June, the National Taxpayer Advocate submits the Objectives Report to Congress, which includes a second volume that contains the IRS’s responses to our recommendations together with our analysis of the IRS’s responses.

As the Acting National Taxpayer Advocate, I believe it is important for taxpayers, tax practitioners, and Members of Congress to see how the IRS responded, and I will highlight a few examples of its responses and related analysis.

  • Most Serious Problem 1 – Tax Law Questions: The IRS has agreed to study the feasibility of returning to its previous practice of answering in-scope tax law questions year-round on the phones.
  • Most Serious Problem 2 – Chief Counsel Transparency: IRS Counsel has agreed to clarify the standards that should be considered when deciding whether legal advice should be issued in a formal memorandum.

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The Taxpayer Roadmap 2019 – A Lifeline For Taxpayers And Tax Professionals

Nina Olson The Taxpayer Roadmap

In the words of a comment made by one of our readers on a previous post on the taxpayer’s journey, “Whatever time and money was spent on this flowchart is some of the best taxpayer dollars ever spent! I am going to pretend my 2018 tax bill went towards this project, which will make me feel so much better about paying my taxes.”

With the road to tax compliance a very complicated one for many, the National Taxpayer Advocate Team spent a considerable amount of time illustrating the taxpayer’s journey from getting answers to tax questions; all the way through audits, appeals, collection and litigation. The road to compliance is complex to navigate and the reason you need a qualified tax expert to guide you through the process. Their stated goal is to expand on the Roadmap to include links in the future to guide you. On behalf of the TaxConnections community of taxpayers and tax professionals, we want to thank Nina Olson and the National Taxpayer Advocate team for an extraordinary job in building The Taxpayer Roadmap. We also want to thank Nina Olson for her outstanding service of 18 years.

TaxConnections Encourages Your Comments Today In Order To Thank National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson Who Retires on July 31st 2019. Great job Nina!

View The Taxpayer Roadmap 2019.

 

 

The Taxpayers Journey Illustrated On A Map – The Roadmap Every Taxpayer Must See

NTA

The National Taxpayer Advocate who works on behalf of U.S. taxpayers recently built a road map of the taxpayers journey. If you ever wondered what a tax professional does for their clients, you should take a close look at this extraordinary map. It is a stunning illustration every taxpayer and tax professional should see.

The map below illustrates, at a very high level, the stages of a taxpayer’s journey, from getting answers to tax law questions, all
the way through audits, appeals, collection, and litigation. It shows the complexity of tax administration, with its connections
and overlaps and repetitions between stages. As you can see from its numerous twists and turns, the road to compliance isn’t
always easy to navigate. But we hope this map helps taxpayers find their way. A project of the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

The Taxpayer Roadmap 2019

 

 

The IRS’s Position On The Application Of The Religious Freedom Restoration Act To The Social Security Requirement Under Internal Revenue Code § 24(h)(7) Has The Effect of Denying Child Tax Credit Benefits To The Amish

Nina Olson On Amish

As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) passed in December 2017, the Child Tax Credit (CTC) (Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 24) was amended to require a Social Security number (SSN) for all qualifying children for whom the credit is being claimed. The stated purpose for the TCJA amendment was to prevent taxpayers who are not eligible to obtain a work-eligible SSN from improperly or fraudulently claiming the CTC or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). This requirement raised concerns for some taxpayers—most notably the Amish—some of whom will refrain from obtaining SSNs for their children altogether or for themselves until later in life, due to their deeply held religious beliefs. Prior to this amendment, IRC § 24 only required that a taxpayer identification number (TIN) be provided, and the IRS developed a procedure that allowed Amish taxpayers to claim the dependent exemption under IRC § 151 and the CTC without placing an identifying number on the dependent line of the return. These procedures, described below, have been in place for over 30 years.

After I raised this issue back in the summer of 2018, and after the IRS reversed course several times, IRS Chief Counsel issued program manager technical advice (PMTA) on March 29, 2019, concluding “… the [IRS] need not provide administrative relief for these taxpayers.”  The IRS revised its guidance on April 15, 2019, to reflect the Chief Counsel’s advice and is disallowing the CTC where qualifying children do not have SSNs on the basis of religious beliefs. Under the TCJA, the maximum CTC for 2018 was $2,000 per child. However, without an SSN, the taxpayer can only receive a partial $500 credit allowed for a dependent—a significant reduction of 75 percent.

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The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Remarks On The Role Of Trust and Taxpayer Advocate Service In Fostering Tax Compliance (Part 1)

Nina Olson Final Words Part1

Volume 1, which I present to you today, includes an analysis of the 2019 Filing Season, an assessment of the impact of the recent government shutdown on the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), 12 Areas of Focus, and a discussion of TAS advocacy initiatives, casework, and research studies.

Volume 2, IRS Responses and National Taxpayer Advocate’s Comments Regarding Most Serious Problems Identified in 2018 Annual Report to Congress, and Volume 3, Making the EITC Work for Taxpayers and the Government: Improving Administration and Protecting Taxpayer Rights, will be published next month.

Volume 2 will contain the IRS’s general responses to each of the administrative recommendations we identified in our 2018 Annual Report to Congress. Volume 3 will contain a comprehensive assessment of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and will make recommendations designed to increase the participation rate of eligible taxpayers and reduce overclaims by ineligible taxpayers.  During the spring, Professor Leslie Book of the Villanova School of Law, a leading EITC expert, served as a “professor in residence” with TAS, and Margot Crandall-Hollick, an EITC expert with the Congressional Research Service, worked with TAS on a detail.  Together with TAS’s EITC experts, including former Low Income Taxpayer Clinic attorneys and researchers, they conducted a broad review of existing EITC research and drafted a comprehensive set of recommendations to assist Congress and the IRS in improving the program.

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