Warns that Tax System may Become "Pay to Play"
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson's annual report to Congress addressed concerns about the IRS's Future State plan: specifically, a reduction in phone and face-to-face service, potential security issues related to taxpayer data, and the general need for transparency moving forward. While Olson believes some parts of the undisclosed plan are good, she worries that a significant reduction in access to previous services could result in an environment wherein "only taxpayers who can afford to pay for tax advice will receive personal service, while others will be left struggling for themselves."
The Advocate's report states that the Future State plan - which has been in development since 2014 - already carries a cost of several million dollars and has required a significant investment of IRS resources to develop. Since so few details on the reduction in services have been "committed to writing," Olson has been forced to speculate on the impact this reduction could have on taxpayers. Despite the lack of concrete data, the report expresses concern that the IRS could be drifting further away from the intended mission of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which focused on developing the agency into more of a service-based organization.
Olson once again called for the publication of the Future State plan and announced that she will hold public hearings to determine the service needs of individuals, sole proprietors, and small businesses. The report also identified 24 serious problems that need to be addressed and offered numerous administrative and legislative changes.
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