The Taxpayer First Act signed into law by President Trump requires the IRS to make important changes that will benefit taxpayers and improve tax administration.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who will retire on July 31, 2019, recently released her final report to Congress, summarizing the 2019 filing season and identifying objectives for FY 2020. Top on her list of goals is the improvement of services to taxpayers, with a move towards a "taxpayer-centric strategy" designed to reduce anxiety and increase trust in our federal tax system.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period October 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. During this period, TIGTA completed 20 audits and 1,068 investigations concerning taxpayer data security, identity theft and impersonation fraud, tax compliance, and IRS efficiency. Of particular concern for this report and future monitoring was the effect of the lapse of appropriations for the IRS just before the start of the first tax season to incorporate changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).
The House Way and Mean Committee is working on a bill that would overhaul Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operations, appeals, and taxpayer services. The Taxpayer First Act faltered in the Senate Finance Committee last April, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers reintroduced the bill for consideration last month. A major focus is improving customer service, from codifying the IRS Free File program and expanding and improving services for low-income taxpayers to strengthening cybersecurity and identity protection. The bill also seeks to create an independent appeals process for IRS matters.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period April 1, 2017 through September 30, 2017. TIGTA provides oversight for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) activities and Federal tax administration. During the most recent period, TIGTA conducted 61 audits and over 1,400 investigations into issues involving tax fraud, identity theft, and other taxpayer-related issues.
President Trump and several key members of Congress have released their proposal for federal tax reform. Their main goals are to simplify the tax code, lower tax rates, increase the competitiveness of American businesses in the international arena, and repatriate dollars currently held in offshore accounts.
The United States Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on September 19, 2017, to address business tax reform goals. Chairman Orrin Hatch focused his opening remarks on the need to reduce corporate tax rates to remain competitive in the international market and to reduce the burden on the American working class. He recommended allowing businesses to deduct dividends paid as a way to offset what he interpreted as double-taxation, since investors are also taxed on dividends received. He also stressed the need to find a way to reduce the tax burden on pass-through entities such as sole proprietorships, LLCs, and partnerships.
The last comprehensive revision of the Internal Revenue Code occurred in 1986, when Congress passed the Tax Reform Act of 1986. On April 26, 2017, with less than one page of writing, President Trump has summarized his Tax Reform Plan, which promises to reduce tax brackets, simplify the tax code, create millions of job, and protect a variety of deductions. Included in the plan are the following proposed changes:
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson recently released her 2016 annual report to Congress recommending that the IRS continue its improvements to becoming service-oriented and that the tax code be significantly simplified. According to data the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) analyzed, taxpayers collectively spend about six billion hours per year complying with filing requirements, "the equivalent of three million full-time workers."
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson gave her mid-year report to Congress on July 7, 2016, reviewing the 2016 filing season and identifying priority issues she hopes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will address.