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NTA Objectives Report Issued; Teleforum on Kuretski Today

Posted on July 17, 2014

As reported by many, the NTA issued the FY 2015 annual objectives report to Congress. While I have not read the entire report, some things jump out at me, including a change in format from past reports, and how many focus areas in Volume 1 were focus areas in our blog in the past year. Below is a brief discussion of the change in format as well as areas of focus in the report, with individualized links.

Before heading to the report, I note that the Federalist Society is sponsoring a teleforum on the Kuretski case TODAY at 1 PM eastern time. No registration is needed and interested participants can dial in at  888-752-3232; Professor Kristin Hickman (Minnesota Law School ) and my Villanova Law colleague Tuan Samahon will be the participants.

Kuretski Event Today

From the Federalist Society promotional materials, here is the description:

At bottom, in Kuretski v. Commissioner, presidential power is at stake. Judges of the U.S. Tax Court (26 USC 7443(f)), were arguably characterized by the U.S. Supreme Court, in Freytag v. Commissioner, as exercising a portion of the judicial power of the United States. Recently, however, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed when it found that the Tax Court exercises only executive power. What are the implications of the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion on the president’s removal power? Has the D.C. Circuit misread Freytag, or faithfully applied it.

TAS Objectives Report

Volume 1 lists specific focus areas, individually linked below. Volume 2 departs from past practices and includes the IRS’s responses to the previously-issued 25 Most Serious Problems Encountered by Taxpayers. In past annual reports (issued close to the calendar year end), the IRS responded directly to the Most Serious Problems in the annual report itself. The IRS responses are now in the mid-year objectives report released yesterday. The preface to Volume 2 by the NTA describes the change:

Unlike previous Annual Reports, the 2013 document did not include IRS comments on the Most Serious Problem analyses and the National Taxpayer Advocate’s response to those comments . In part, this change was necessary so we could issue the report as close as possible to the December 31 statutory deadline, given the 16-day government shutdown last fall, which hit at a particularly crucial time in the editing and review schedule.

Volume 2 in the Objectives Report now has the IRS’s response and TAS’s reply. The preface details the statutory authority for the change, as well as describing how the Commissioner asked the NTA to “identify for his consideration select recommendations from the report that she believed could have a significant positive impact on tax administration and could be undertaken or at least explored with minimal resources.” The NTA added that the IRS has made substantial progress on five of those issues.

Areas of Focus in Objectives Report

The Objectives Report identifies the objectives of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate “for the fiscal year beginning in that calendar year.” Here are the objectives, with links:

  1. TAS Will Work Closely with the IRS on Implementing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Integrating it into IRS Operations
  2. Return Preparer Fraud: A Sad Story
  3. Despite Improvements, TAS Remains Concerned About IRS Treatment of Taxpayers Applying for Exempt Status
  4. IRS Steps to Create a Voluntary Program for Tax Return Preparer Standards in Light of the Loving Decision Are Well Intentioned, but the Absence of a Meaningful Competency Examination Limits the Program’s Value and Could Mislead Taxpayers
  5. The IRS’s Decision Not to Except Any TAS Employees During the Government Shutdown Resulted in Violations of Taxpayer Rights and Undermined TAS’s Statutory Authority to Assist Taxpayers Suffering or About to Suffer Significant Hardship
  6. IRS Funding Gap Creates Severe Risk to the Delivery of the Taxpayer Advocate Service Integrated System (TASIS)
  7. Providing Current and Accurate Instructions and Guidelines for IRS Employees and Taxpayers
  8. TAS Prepares for Implementation of Filing Season 2015 Affordable Care Act Provisions
  9. The IRS Has Improved at Detecting Identity Theft and Assisting Victims, but Victims with Multiple Tax Issues Still Lack One IRS Contact Person to Oversee All Aspects of Their Cases
  10. Collection: The IRS Does Not Adequately Protect Low Income Taxpayers from the Harmful Effects of Levies
  11. TAS is Working with the IRS to Resolve Certain Taxpayer Accounts with Extensions of Time for Collection that Exceed Current Policy Limits
  12. The IRS Needs to Improve Service and Access to Payment Options for Taxpayers with Collection Problems
  13. The Earned Income Tax Credit is an Effective Anti-Poverty Tool That Requires a Non-Traditional Compliance Approach by the IRS
  14. TAS Continues to Monitor the IRS’s Implementation of the Supreme Court Decision in Windsor and Processing of Same-Sex Marriage Returns and Related Claims

Many of the areas the NTA lists as focus areas were the subject of posts in Procedurally Taxing. I have not had the time to go through the report but a couple of items in particular are of interest, including the discussion of the 32(k) ban and the discussion of ACA implementation, topics we discussed at PT in the past week.

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