Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Releases 2013 Annual Report, Includes 148 recommendations for Improving IRS customer service

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The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) has released its 2013 Annual Report, describing its activities and recommendations to improve Internal Revenue Service (IRS) customer service and satisfaction, including evaluating tax software and e-filed tax forms, helping students with transcript requests for FAFSA applications, and reviewing the Small Business Taxes Virtual Workshop, among other activities.

2013 TAP Annual Report cover

2013 TAP Annual Report cover

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a Federal Advisory Committee consisting of citizen volunteers from across the nation, has released its 2013 Annual Report describing its activities and recommendations to improve Internal Revenue Service (IRS) customer service and satisfaction. The report summarizes TAP’s accomplishments, including 148 new project recommendations to the IRS and 42 projects the panel completed in 2013.

The 2013 Annual Report highlights the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel’s key recommendations for IRS customer service improvements that include:

  • Tax Software and E-filed Tax Forms –TAP established a focus group and provided critique from the perspective of a diverse cross-section of taxpayers after evaluating tax software and e-filed tax forms.
  • Transcript Requests for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) –TAP designed a step-by-step illustration of how students can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to complete a FAFSA Application without having to contact the IRS to obtain a copy of their transcript.
  • Small Business Taxes – TAP was asked by the IRS to review the overall design and functionality of the online Small Business Taxes Virtual Workshop. They reviewed nine lessons and the introduction. TAP made numerous recommendations and the IRS immediately began implementing changes.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Issues –TAP made 14 separate recommendations to improve the ITIN process. These recommendations point the IRS toward the implementation of several fixes for a critically outdated method of taxpayers establishing required identification of family members to participate in government programs.
  • Increase Use of the Online Payment Agreement (OPA) –TAP made five separate recommendations to increase taxpayer and practitioner use of the OPA application to establish payment plans. These included improving the training on the availability of the OPA and providing easily accessible links, among others.

The report highlights additional TAP activities that include:

  • A discussion of the ongoing TAP fiscal challenge of “how to do more with less;”
  • The reorganization of the IRS TAP staff to better integrate within the Systemic Advocacy Program of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS);
  • The formal adoption of a set of governing by-laws for the TAP;
  • The alteration of the frequency and timing of face-to-face meetings; and
  • The reduction in the number of volunteer positions.

Volunteer Taxpayer Advocacy Panel members are appointed by the Treasury Department from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Members serve three-year terms, with approximately one-third replaced each year by new volunteers. The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is chartered as an independent advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide a taxpayer perspective on critical tax administration programs.

2013 TAP Chair Richard Bilancia formally submitted the TAP Annual Report to the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, and the National Taxpayer Advocate on Dec. 8, 2014. Bilancia expressed that it has been his pleasure and privilege to work with the TAP volunteers to create and present this report. The report merely summarizes some of the work of the qualified, dedicated, and professional volunteers who serve on TAP with the hopes of working toward the goal of improving IRS customer service and products for America’s taxpayers.

On behalf of his fellow volunteers, Bilancia acknowledged the Department of the Treasury, the IRS, and the Taxpayer Advocate Service for their support and partnership. All those involved appreciate the opportunity to have participated in the IRS decision-making process.

More information about the 2013 TAP Annual Report is available on the panel’s website at http://www.improveirs.org. If you have any questions about joining the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel or would like to submit a suggestion to improve IRS customer service, please call TAP’s toll-free number at 1-888-912-1227.

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Kimberly Vinci
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel
(916) 974-5086
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