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New Tax Appointments

This has been a busy week in the tax appointments world, with the appointment of the new National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), the reappointment of Chief Judge Foley as Chief Judge of the United States Tax Court (Tax Court), and the confirmation of Travis Greaves to the Tax Court.

On February 27, 2020, the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced the appointment of Erin M. Collins as the new NTA. Ms. Collins fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Nina Olson last summer. Ms. Collins spent 20 years as a Managing Director for KPMG’s Tax Controversy Practices for the Western Area and was an IRS Chief Counsel attorney for 15 years.

On February 24, 2020, the Tax Court announced the re-election of Chief Judge Foley to a 2-year term starting June 1, 2020. Chief Judge Foley was originally elected as Chief Judge effective June 1, 2018.

Finally, the Senate confirmed Travis Greaves to be a Judge of the Tax Court for a 15-year term. For our prior post on Mr. Greaves’ nomination by the White House, see here. Two other nominees, Alina Ionescu and Christian Weiler, are currently awaiting action by the Senate Finance Committee.




NTA Announces Date and Location for 4th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights

The National Taxpayer Advocate recently announced that the 4th International Conference on Taxpayer Rights will be held May 23 – 24, 2019, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The purpose of conference is to connect government officials, scholars and practitioners from around the world to explore how taxpayer rights globally serve as the foundation for effective tax administration. The theme for the 2019 conference will be the role of taxpayer rights in the digital age and the implications of the expanding digital environment for transparency, certainty and privacy in tax administration. Presentations and paper proposals on range of topics are being sought, and the deadline to submit a proposal is December 1, 2018.

Prior conferences have been held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Vienna, Austria and Washington, DC Conference. Archived materials for the prior conferences can be found here.

We previously attended and participated in the Amsterdam and Vienna conferences. For our posts on these conferences, see below:




Taxpayer Bill of Rights | Another Tool for Taxpayers?

In 2015, after repeated efforts by Nina E. Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, Congress enacted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) in Internal Revenue Code (Code) Section 7803(a)(3). We have previously written about TBOR here, here and here.

Since TBOR was enacted, the IRS has issued information on its website regarding the 10 rights contained in Code Section 7803(a)(3). The IRS provides a summary of these rights. Additionally, the IRS has provided specific information on these rights. To summarize, the 10 rights are:

  1. The right to be informed.
  2. The right to quality services.
  3. The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax.
  4. The right to challenge the position of the Internal Revenue Service and be heard.
  5. The right to appeal a decision of the Internal Revenue Service in an independent forum.
  6. The right to finality.
  7. The right to privacy.
  8. The right to confidentiality.
  9. The right to retain representation.
  10. The right to a fair and just tax system.

(more…)




National Taxpayer Advocate Releases 2017 Annual Report to Congress

On January 10, 2018, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson released her 2017 Annual Report to Congress. (For our coverage of the 2016 Annual Report, see here). The NTA also released the inaugural “Purple Book,” which “is a compendium of 50 legislative recommendations for strengthening taxpayer rights and improving tax administration that we and others have made over the years.” We will be reviewing the 2017 Annual Report and the Purple Book in the coming days for items of interest.

Practice Point: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), an independent organization within the IRS, is an excellent (and often underutilized) resource for individual and corporate taxpayers who may be at a standstill with the Internal Revenue Service—especially on a technical, administrative or “red-tape” issue. Taxpayers of all shapes and sizes should consider, where appropriate, utilizing the TAS in appropriate circumstances where they are encountering delays in the administration of their tax disputes




Taxpayer Rights Around the World (Follow-Up)

We previously wrote two blog posts about the 2nd International Conference on Taxpayer Rights held in Vienna, Austria in March 2017 here and here. Videos of each panel discussion are now available for viewing here. Planning is currently underway for the 3rd International Conference on Taxpayer Rights, which will be held in The Netherlands on May 3-4.




Taxpayer Advocate Questions IRS CID’s Narrow Reading of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

On March 30, 2017, the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) published a report identifying numerous violations of taxpayer rights from 2012 to 2014 by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS CID) in structuring cases. TIGTA examined over 300 investigations for structuring in this time period and identified 21 cases in which taxpayer rights had been compromised.

The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (BSA) requires US financial institutions to file reports of currency transactions exceeding $10,000. A provision of the BSA, 31 U.S.C. § 5324(a), prohibits structuring, that is, setting up a transaction for the purpose of evading this reporting requirement. Violations of the law can result in fines, imprisonment and asset forfeiture. This law is administered by the US Department of the Treasury, and one of its major goals is to monitor traffic in illegal-source funds (i.e., funds used in drug transactions or to support terrorism). (more…)




Taxpayer Rights Around the World (Part 1)

On March 13 and 14, the 2nd International Conference on Taxpayer Rights was held in Vienna, Austria. More than 150 individuals from more than 40 countries attended the conference, which connects government official, scholars and practitioners from around the world to explore how taxpayer rights globally serve as the foundation for effective tax administration. This is the first of two posts recapping the issues discussed at the conference.

Four panels were held on March 13: (1) The Framework and Justification for Taxpayer Rights; (2) Privacy and Transparency; (3) Protection of Taxpayer Rights in Multi-Jurisdictional Disputes; and (4) Access to Rights: the Right to Quality Service in an Era of Reduced Agency Budgets.

(more…)




National Taxpayer Advocate Releases 2016 Annual Report to Congress

On January 10, 2017, the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson released her 2016 Annual Report to Congress.

According to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), the report was delivered to Congress with no prior review by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, the Secretary of the Treasury or the Office of Management and Budget.  The primary sections of the report include:

  • 2016 Special Focus – IRS Future State: The National Taxpayer Advocate’s Vision for a Taxpayer-Centric 21st Century Tax Administration
  • Most Serious Problems Encountered by Taxpayers
  • Recommendations to Congress
  • Most Litigated Issues
  • Taxpayer Advocate Service Research and Related Studies
  • Literature Reviews

Practice Point: TAS, an independent organization within the IRS, is an excellent (and often underutilized) resource for individual and corporate taxpayers who may be at a standstill with the IRS – especially on a technical, administrative, or “red-tape” issue. Taxpayers of all shapes and sizes should consider, where appropriate, utilizing the TAS in appropriate circumstances where they are encountering delays in the administration of their tax disputes.

This post is the first in a four-part series addressing highlights of the Annual Report that may be of interest to our readers.




IRS Commissioner Asks Congress to Overturn Loving

Following a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) that criticized the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for failing to protect taxpayer financial information from cybersecurity threats, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has requested that US Congress give the IRS the power to license tax preparers.  Prior efforts by the IRS to regulate paid tax preparers by forcing them to pass a competency exam and meet continuing education requirements had been struck down in a 2013 federal district court decision which was later affirmed unanimously by the US District Court for the District of Columbia in Loving v. IRS, 742 F.3d 1013 (DC Cir. 2014).

Having failed to achieve its goal in court, in 2014 the IRS turned to Capitol Hill to grant it the authority to enforce nationwide certification requirements on independent tax return preparers.  Imposing competency requirements on tax return preparers is an idea supported not only by the IRS but also by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olsen and other tax policy leaders.  Proponents have long argued that government regulations are needed to address ineptitude among “mom-and-pop” tax preparers and unscrupulousness among other preparers who take advantage of uninformed taxpayers.  Efforts to pass the legislation in Congress, however, had stalled.

Now, Commissioner Koskinen is using the recently issued GAO report to renew the push to established minimum standards for tax preparers.  It would seem unlikely, however, that these new efforts will bear any fruit.




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