As published in the Winter Park/Maitland Observer, Thursday Jan. 3, 2012 Edition Offers... Read More »
Taxpayer Advocate Service is Overburdened
The IRS’s increased emphasis on enforcement, rising caseloads, the economy, and recent legislative changes are among the many challenges confronting the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), according to a new report.
TAS management overall agreed with the facts and conclusions of the report regarding the major trends over the past five years, and provided additional perspective related to the TAS’s change in authority and its effect on the issuance of operations assistance requests to the operating divisions. In addition, TAS management also provided input related to the increase in case-processing time.
“At the management level, we have taken and are continuing to take significant steps to reduce the burden that this increase in cases is placing on our employees,” wrote National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson in a letter included in the report. “For example, we implemented a workload re-balancing initiative to even out workloads across our offices.”
She added that her office plans to roll out a new integrated computer system in 2013 that will help case advocates achieve much greater efficiency.
In response to the finding that cases were taking two weeks longer to resolve than in 2005, Olson noted, “I would like to reiterate that the primary goal of our case advocates is to fully resolve all related issues for the taxpayer. While we aim to accomplish this as quickly as possible, we would rather take longer and resolve the case correctly than score a quick hit but fail to assist a taxpayer properly.”
The meteoric increase in the demand for TAS’s services will not come as a surprise to those of us who regularly represent taxpayers involved in IRS disputes. However, any list of reasons for the increase must include the continuing incompetence and inefficiency of IRS personnel.
Many issues that are handled by TAS can and should be resolved by front line IRS employees. But because these IRS employees are so often are not up to the task, tax professionals avoid dealing with them from the outset and immediately solicit the more competent assistance of Nina Olson’s TAS staff.
The increase in TAS’s workload is an indictment of the quality of IRS personnel.