Want to Make the IRS Better? Volunteer for the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

Although the Internal Revenue Service is among the least-liked federal agencies, there is a way for taxpayers to help make it better.

The IRS is looking for volunteers to serve on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a federal committee that listens to taxpayers, identifies major taxpayer concerns, and makes recommendations for improving IRS services.

The TAP provides a forum for taxpayers to raise concerns about IRS service and offer suggestions for improvement. The TAP reports annually to the Secretary of the Treasury, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate. The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate is an independent organization within the IRS and provides oversight of the TAP.

“In trying to comply with an increasingly complex tax system, taxpayers may find they need different services than the IRS is currently providing,” said Nina E. Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate. “The TAP is vital because it provides the IRS with the taxpayers’ perspective as well as recommendations for improvement. This helps the IRS deliver the best possible service to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax obligations.”

The TAP includes members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each member is appointed to represent the interests of taxpayers in his or her geographic location as well as taxpayers as a whole.

The TAP is also seeking to include at least one additional member to represent international taxpayers. For these purposes, “international taxpayers” are broadly defined to include U.S. citizens working, living, or doing business abroad or in a U.S. territory. The new international member will not be required to attend any face-to-face meetings.

To be a member of the TAP you must be a U.S. citizen, be current with your federal tax obligations, be able to commit 200 to 300 hours during the year and pass an FBI criminal background check. New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2014. Applicants chosen as alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their areas during the next three years.

The TAP is seeking members in the following locations: Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and International.

The panel needs alternates for the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Federal advisory committees are required to have a fairly balanced membership in terms of the points of view represented. As such, candidates from underrepresented groups, including but not limited to U.S. taxpayers living abroad, Native Americans, and non-tax practitioners, are encouraged to apply.

Applications for the TAP will be accepted through April 11, 2014. Applications are available online at www.improveirs.org. For additional information about the TAP or the application process, please call 888-912-1227 (a toll-free call) and select prompt number five. Callers who are outside of the U.S. and U.S. territories should call 954-423-7973 (not a toll-free call).

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