TaxMama® has news about a bill just passed by both houses of Congress. The Taxpayer First Act is expected to be signed by the President.
As you all know, we have been waiting for two pieces of tax legislation from Congress this year:
- a) An extender act to reinstate some of the tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017 (mortgage insurance deduction, tuition and fees deduction, etc.)
b) A law giving the IRS specific authority to require paid tax preparers to actually know something about the tax laws and procedures. (Did you know that 46 states and the District of Columbia have absolutely no licensing or knowledge requirements for paid tax preparers?)
Well, this Bill provides neither of those eagerly-awaited bits of legislation. So what does the Taxpayer First Act do for you?
- It establishes an independent IRS Office of Appeals (which is pretty independent already), which may require new procedures for taxpayers who want to appeal IRS determinations. (Incidentally, the Chief of Appeals will be getting a pretty high rate of pay – budgetary provisions for that and the additional costs to administer this separate division?)
- It includes a comprehensive customer service strategy (I didn’t read it closely, but didn’t see a corresponding budget provision to pay for this – did you?).
- It provides a fee waiver for low income taxpayers who file for an Offer in Compromise (which has already been in place for at least a decade – read page 24 of the Form 656B package).
- Sensible Enforcement provisions – OK, now, here are some good features designed to make our lives easier for things like innocent spouse, private debt collections, third-party contacts, and a few other useful fixes.
- Modernizing the office of the Taxpayer Advocate and the IRS organizational structure. Definitely could use it! But…again…budget provisions to pay for this?
- Funds for VITA centers and LITC centers to help low income taxpayers with free services. It’s the 50th anniversary of the VITA program!
- New rules and protections for tax whistleblowers. Who knows, you might actually be able to get paid for turning in a real tax crook! And you might be protected from retaliation by employers. (Really? But they can still make your life a living h-e-double hockey sticks.)
- The IRS has to give 90 days’ notice when they are going to close a customer service center. (So what? It will still be closed.)
- Misdirected refunds – Sec. 1407 – this could prove to be really helpful to folks who entered the wrong bank account for their electronic refunds. Until now, the IRS has bowed out of the issue, since they have no actual responsibility for our errors. Now Congress mandates them to work with the financial institutions to recover money deposited to the wrong account.
- And lots and lots of steps to improve Cybersecurity and reduce Identity Theft.
Do you want to read all the details? Please do. You may find something that can help you with your tax issues.
And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about taxes and business issues, and EA Education, free. Where? Where else? At http://iTaxMama.com/AskQuestion
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