Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, has released her final report (she’s retiring after serving for 18 years) (IR-2019-119, 6/20/19). The report reviews the 2019 tax filing season and lists the challenges facing the IRS. The top challenge: taxpayer service, which she rates as poor and says that lack of funding is no excuse. During the 2019 filing season, service levels declined for those who required assistance from the IRS (e.g., the average time spent on hold to speak to an IRS representative rose from 5.1 minutes to 9 minutes). She says that technology cannot displace face-to-face, phone, and paper communications for many taxpayers.
The report makes recommendations for IRS actions for improvement. One is to help “financially vulnerable taxpayers” before beginning collection actions. The report also identifies 12 priority issues for the upcoming year. One of these is the creation and online availability of a roadmap to navigate the seven stages that taxpayers face (e.g., tax return preparation, notices, examinations, litigation), which the Taxpayer Advocate Service hopes to have operational in July.