President Trump has signed into law the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 (H.R. 3151) (the “Act”). Signed on July 1, 2019, this bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to improve and modify the organizational structure, enforcement procedures, and services of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The bill also establishes within the IRS a new “Independent” Office of Appeals to resolve tax controversies and review administrative decisions.
The bill addresses the organizational structure of the IRS by:
- modifying the titles of several IRS officials,
- establishing requirements for responding to Taxpayer Advocate Directives (i.e., 90 day response period) and providing statistical support to the National Taxpayer Advocate,
- eliminating the IRS Oversight Board, and
- requiring the IRS to submit a reorganization plan to Congress.
The bill revises enforcement procedures relating to:
- the seizure of property that has been structured to avoid Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirements,
- innocent spouse/equitable relief from joint liability,
- the issuance of a summons,
- referrals for private debt collection,
- protection for tax whistleblowers from retaliation and improved and expanded communication with whistleblowers about the status of their claims.
- contacting third parties, and
- providing access to tax return information to individuals who are not IRS employees.
With respect to the services provided to taxpayers, the bill requires the IRS to:
- submit to Congress a customer service strategy,
- continue to operate the IRS Free File Program, and
- exempt certain low-income taxpayers from payments required to submit an offer-in-compromise.
This Act hopes to expand and strengthen taxpayer rights as well as provide a needed focus on cybersecurity and protection from identity theft for taxpayers. Under the law, it requires the IRS to have a single point of contact for identity theft victims (no more dealing with a different agent every time you call the IRS). Also new is notification to taxpayers if the IRS suspects they have been subject to identity theft.
These are some of the highlights of the Taxpayer First Act – definitely a good step for both tax filers and tax professionals. Please reach out to your Wegner CPA tax expert if you have questions.