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IRS outlines reorganization of Taxpayer Advocate's Office.

The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (IRSRRA 98) substantially expanded the authority and independence of the former Taxpayer Advocate's office by establishing the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The functions of this office are to (1) assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the IRS, (2) identify areas in which taxpayers have problems in dealing with the Service, (3) propose changes (to the extent possible) in the IRS's administrative practices that will mitigate problems and (4) identify potential legislative changes that may mitigate problems. The IRSRRA '98 also replaced the local problem resolution officers with local taxpayer advocates who report directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate (who in turn reports directly to the Commissioner), and expanded the authority of the National Taxpayer Advocate to issue taxpayer assistance orders.

The Service recently announced (IR-1999-40) how the changes mandated by the IRSRRA '98 in the responsibilities and organization of the National Taxpayer Advocate's Office will be implemented in the ongoing IRS reorganization. They include the following:

* There will be 74 local Taxpayer Advocates nationwide, with at least one advocate in each state and in each service center.

* The local advocates will report to nine Area Taxpayer Advocates who report directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate. (This change is intended to promote greater independence and represents a change from the prior structure, under which local advocates reported to District Directors.)

* A Taxpayer Advocate will be located within each of the four new operating divisions announced as part of the Service's reorganization--Wage and Investment, Small Business and Self-Employed, Large and Mid-Size Business, and Tax Exempt and Government Entities. These advocates are specialists in the operations of their respective divisions and in the issues faced by taxpayers served by the division.

* Cases will be handled by personnel assigned full-time to the Taxpayer Advocate program. (Previously, personnel split their time between Taxpayer Advocate casework and other IRS casework.)

* To reflect the added importance and responsibilities of the National Taxpayer Advocate, management and staff job positions will be redefined and pay grades increased.

In announcing the changes, Commissioner Rossotti said, "this new approach will provide people a helping hand from within the IRS." Rossotti noted that the changes "give the National Taxpayer Advocate better tools to serve as the taxpayer's voice inside the IRS."

MITCH OLSON, CPA, EIDE HELMEKE LLP, FARGO, ND
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Title Annotation:Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate
Author:Helmeke, Eide
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 1999
Words:389
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