Tuesday's Forum Intended to be First in a Series
While delivering the 2015 Annual Report to Congress in January, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson announced that she would hold a series of public hearings to determine the need for specific taxpayer services. On Tuesday, February 23, she will conduct the first of these forums - composed of three panels chaired by experts in tax policy.
This event appears to be a reaction to the IRS's Future State Plan, which the Advocate's January report claims will "substantially reduce telephone and face-to-face interaction with taxpayers." According to Olson, this planned reduction coupled with a renewed focus on online services could be problematic.
Complex tax problems, she contends, often result in online service being used to supplement personal service, rather than replacing it entirely. Citing the intent of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Olson insists that that the mission of the IRS should be providing quality service to taxpayers.
Reinforcing these concerns, she noted that, despite an increase in the use of electronic services, taxpayer calls to the IRS increased by 59 percent last year. Should taxpayers be unable to receive adequate service, Olsen worries their "frustration and alienation may lead over time to a lower rate of voluntary compliance" - and opening a dialogue is one way she hopes to avoid that hypothetical situation.