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Full Report

The Annual Report to Congress creates a dialogue at the highest levels of government to address taxpayers’ problems, protect taxpayers’ rights, and ease taxpayers’ burden.

Report Contents

Volume One: Most Serious Problems, Recommendation to Congress, and Most Litigated Issues

PREFACE: Introductory Remarks by the National Taxpayer Advocate

TAXPAYER RIGHTS ASSESSMENT: IRS Performance Measures and Data Relating to Taxpayer Rights

Most Serious Problems Encountered by Taxpayers


IRS Future State Vision: Implications for Today and Tomorrow

  1. TAXPAYER SERVICE: The IRS Has Developed a Comprehensive “Future State” Plan That Aims to Transform the Way It Interacts With Taxpayers, But Its Plan May Leave Critical Taxpayer Needs and Preferences Unmet
  2. IRS USER FEES: The IRS May Adopt User Fees to Fill Funding Gaps Without Fully Considering Taxpayer Burden and the Impact on Voluntary Compliance
  3. FORM 1023-EZ: Recognition As a Tax-Exempt Organization Is Now Virtually Automatic for Most Applicants, Which Invites Noncompliance, Diverts Tax Dollars and Taxpayer Donations, and Harms Organizations Later Determined to Be Taxable
  4. REVENUE PROTECTION: Hundreds of Thousands of Taxpayers File Legitimate Tax Returns That Are Incorrectly Flagged and Experience Substantial Delays in Receiving Their Refunds Because of an Increasing Rate of “False Positives” Within the IRS’s Pre-Refund Wage Verification Program
  5. TAXPAYER ACCESS TO ONLINE ACCOUNT SYSTEM: As the IRS Develops an Online Account System, It May Do Less to Address the Service Needs of Taxpayers Who Wish to Speak With an IRS Employee Due to Preference or Lack of Internet Access or Who Have Issues That Are Not Conducive to Resolution Online
  6. PREPARER ACCESS TO ONLINE ACCOUNTS: Granting Uncredentialed Preparers Access to an Online Taxpayer Account System Could Create Security Risks and Harm Taxpayers
  7. INTERNATIONAL TAXPAYER SERVICE: The IRS’s Strategy for Service on Demand Fails to Compensate for the Closure of International Tax Attaché Offices and Does Not Sufficiently Address the Unique Needs of International Taxpayers

Problems That Undermine Taxpayer Rights and Impose Taxpayer Burden

  1. APPEALS: The Appeals Judicial Approach and Culture Project Is Reducing the Quality and Extent of Substantive Administrative Appeals Available to Taxpayers
  2. COLLECTION APPEALS PROGRAM (CAP): The CAP Provides Inadequate Review and Insufficient Protections for Taxpayers Facing Collection Actions
  3. LEVIES ON ASSETS IN RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: Current IRS Guidance Regarding Levies on Retirement Accounts Does Not Adequately Protect Taxpayer Rights and Conflicts with Retirement Security Public Policy
  4. NOTICES OF FEDERAL TAX LIEN (NFTL): The IRS Files Most NFTLs Based on Arbitrary Dollar Thresholds Rather Than on a Thorough Analysis of a Taxpayer’s Financial Circumstances and the Impact on Future Compliance and Overall Revenue Collection
  5. THIRD PARTY CONTACTS: IRS Third Party Contact Procedures Do Not Follow the Law and May Unnecessarily Damage Taxpayers’ Businesses and Reputations
  6. WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM: The IRS Whistleblower Program Does Not Meet Whistleblowers’ Need for Information During Lengthy Processing Times and Does Not Sufficiently Protect Taxpayers’ Confidential Information From Re-Disclosure by Whistleblowers
  7. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) – BUSINESS: The IRS Faces Challenges in Implementing the Employer Provisions of the ACA While Protecting Taxpayer Rights and Minimizing Burden
  8. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (ACA) – INDIVIDUALS: The IRS Is Compromising Taxpayer Rights As It Continues to Administer the Premium Tax Credit and Individual Shared Responsibility Payment Provisions

Problems That Waste IRS Resources and Impose Taxpayer Burden

  1. IDENTITY THEFT (IDT): The IRS’s Procedures for Assisting Victims of IDT, While Improved, Still Impose Excessive Burden and Delay Refunds for Too Long
  2. AUTOMATED SUBSTITUTE FOR RETURN (ASFR) PROGRAM: Current Selection Criteria for Cases in the ASFR Program Create Rework and Impose Undue Taxpayer Burden
  3. INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBERS (ITINs): IRS Processes Create Barriers to Filing and Paying for Taxpayers Who Cannot Obtain Social Security Numbers
  4. PRACTITIONER SERVICES: Reductions in the Practitioner Priority Service Phone Line Staffing and Other Services Burden Practitioners and the IRS
  5. IRS COLLECTION EFFECTIVENESS: The IRS’s Failure to Accurately Input Designated Payment Codes for All Payments Compromises Its Ability to Evaluate Which Actions Are Most Effective in Generating Payments
  6. EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS (EOs): The IRS’s Delay in Updating Publicly Available Lists of EOs Harms Reinstated Organizations and Misleads Taxpayers

Problems That Contribute to Earned Income Tax Credit Noncompliance and Recommendations for Improvement


  1. EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC): The IRS Does Not Do Enough Taxpayer Education in the Pre-Filing Environment to Improve EITC Compliance and Should Establish a Telephone Helpline Dedicated to Answering Pre-Filing Questions From Low Income Taxpayers About Their EITC Eligibility
  2. EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC): The IRS Is Not Adequately Using the EITC Examination Process As an Educational Tool and Is Not Auditing Returns With the Greatest Indirect Potential for Improving EITC Compliance
  3. EARNED INCOME TAX CREDIT (EITC): The IRS’s EITC Return Preparer Strategy Does Not Adequately Address the Role of Preparers in EITC Noncompliance

Legislative Recommendations


National Taxpayer Advocate Legislative Recommendations With Congressional Action

Recommendations to Protect Taxpayer Rights and Reduce Taxpayer Burden

  1. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS: Repeal or Fix Statute Suspension Under IRC § 7811(d)
  2. MATH ERROR AUTHORITY: Authorize the IRS to Summarily Assess Math and “Correctable” Errors Only in Appropriate Circumstances
  3. LEVIES ON RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: Amend IRC § 6334 to Include a Definition of Flagrancy and Require Consideration of Basic Living Expenses at Retirement Before Levying on Retirement Accounts
  4. CHAPTER 3 AND CHAPTER 4 CREDITS AND REFUNDS: Protect Taxpayer Rights by Aligning the Rules Governing Credits and Refunds for Domestic and International Withholding
  5. FOREIGN ACCOUNT REPORTING: Eliminate Duplicative Reporting of Certain Foreign Financial Assets and Adopt a Same-Country Exception for Reporting Financial Assets Held in the Country in Which a U.S. Taxpayer Is a Bona Fide Resident
  6. INDIAN TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS (ITGs): Treat ITGs as States for Social Security Tax Purposes
  7. TAXPAYER RIGHTS: Toll the Time Period for Financially Disabled Taxpayers to Request Return of Levy Proceeds to Better Protect Their Right to a Fair and Just Tax System
  8. THE FRIVOLOUS RETURN PENALTY: Protect Good Faith Taxpayers by Expanding the Availability of Penalty Reductions, Establishing Specific Penalty Abatement Procedures, and Providing Appeal Rights

Recommendations to Minimize IRS Wasted Resources and Reduce Taxpayer Burden

  1. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT INFORMATION REPORTING: Allow Taxpayer Identification Number Matching for Filers of Information Returns Under IRC §§ 6055 and 6056
  2. EXEMPT ORGANIZATIONS (EOs): Require More Frequent Updates to Publicly Available Databases of EOs
  3. BASIS REPORTING: Reduce Taxpayer Burden and Improve Tax Compliance by Requiring Partnerships and S Corporations to Report Each Partner’s or Shareholder’s Adjusted Basis Annually on Schedules K-1
  4. HARDSHIP WITHDRAWALS: Provide a Uniform Definition of a Hardship Withdrawal From Tax-Advantaged Retirement Arrangements 

Recommendations to Improve the Whistleblower Program

  1. WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM: Enact Anti-Retaliation Legislation to Protect Tax Whistleblowers
  2. WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM: Make Unauthorized Disclosures of Return Information by Whistleblowers Subject to the Penalties of IRC §§ 7431, 7213, and 7213A, Substantially Increase the Amount of Such Penalties, and Make Whistleblowers Subject to the Safeguarding Requirement of IRC § 6103(p)
  3. WHISTLEBLOWER PROGRAM: Amend IRC §§ 7623 and 6103 to Provide Consistent Treatment of Recovered Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Penalties for Whistleblower Award Purposes

Most Litigated Issues


Significant Cases

  1. Accuracy-Related Penalty Under IRC § 6662(b)(1) and (2)
  2. Trade or Business Expenses Under IRC § 162 and Related Sections
  3. Summons Enforcement Under IRC §§ 7602, 7604, and 7609
  4. Gross Income Under IRC § 61 and Related Sections
  5. Appeals From Collection Due Process Hearings Under IRC §§ 6320 and 6330
  6. Failure to File Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(1), Failure to Pay an Amount Shown As Tax on Return Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(2), and Failure to Pay Estimated Tax Penalty Under IRC § 6654
  7. Civil Actions to Enforce Federal Tax Liens or to Subject Property to Payment of Tax Under IRC § 7403
  8. Charitable Deductions Under IRC § 170
  9. Frivolous Issues Penalty Under IRC § 6673 and Related Appellate-Level Sanctions
  10. Relief From Joint and Several Liability Under IRC § 6015

TAS Case Advocacy