IRS National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson delivered a report to Congress on her main priorities for the coming fiscal year, and at the top of the list is improving taxpayer services.

Olson thinks the Taxpayer Assistance Blueprint published by the IRS in April is just a first step in improving services. She also wants to ensure that taxpayer rights are protected in the IRS's private debt collection initiative. The House Ways and Means Committee voted to repeal that initiative this week.

Olson hopes to make the IRS's offer-in-compromise program more accessible for taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax debts in full. She noted that in about 70 percent of the cases her office reviewed, taxpayers were unable to afford even a 20 percent down payment on the lump-sum offer.

The report also describes the challenges faced by the IRS in closing the "tax gap," the difference between taxes owed and actually collected. Olson worries that the IRS may ramp up enforcement excessively and put a strain on both taxpayers and her office's Taxpayer Advocate Service. "There is a very real concern that IRS and TAS employees may react to the current pressures by cutting corners," she wrote. "Taxpayers will be harmed if such events come to pass."

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