New taxpayer advocate appointed for the IRS

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The Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department have named Erin Collins the new National Taxpayer Advocate to run the Taxpayer Advocate Service at the IRS.

Collins was previously managing director of KPMG’s tax controversy services practice for the western area for 20 years, and prior to that, she was an attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel for the IRS for 15 years. She will be succeeding Bridget Roberts, who was named last year to fill the position on an interim basis following the retirement of longtime National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson.

“Erin Collins will be an outstanding voice for American taxpayers,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement Thursday. “She has a wealth of experience representing a broad range of taxpayers before the IRS. She also developed valuable expertise during her years with the Office of Chief Counsel. Erin is the ideal candidate to help the IRS modernize and improve service for American families and businesses.”

While at KPMG, Collins represented individuals, partnerships and corporate taxpayers on technical and procedural tax matters involving the IRS, and has also helped some taxpayers with pro bono services.

“I am deeply honored to join the talented team at the IRS as the National Taxpayer Advocate and thank Secretary Mnuchin and Commissioner Rettig for the trust they have placed in me,” Collins said in a statement. “I will work every day to be a strong and effective representative of American taxpayers.”

As a volunteer, Collins has also joined with other professional women to work with teenage girls in underprivileged communities in after-school and weekend mentorship programs. She also devoted time to nonprofit boards to help communities where English is the second language spoken at home.

The National Taxpayer Advocate and the Taxpayer Advocate Service help taxpayers resolve issues with the IRS and propose changes to the administrative practices of the IRS. The NTA reports directly to the IRS commissioner, and regularly to Congress, on areas of the tax law that place significant burdens on taxpayers or the IRS, including recommending potential legislative changes.

“I look forward to working with Erin to improve the IRS for the benefit of all Americans and know that she will serve our nation with distinction,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in a statement. “I appreciate and respect the efforts of former NTA, Nina Olson and everyone within the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Our TAS employees are exemplary, and it’s clear they care deeply and passionately about serving taxpayers and our country. We are extremely thankful to Bridget Roberts for continuing the important work of the TAS organization during this period, which is a great testament to Bridget, the entire TAS team and the rest of the IRS who supported them.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, praised Collins, but with a caveat about her Big Four experience. “Erin Collins has a wealth of experience in the public and private sector, and I look forward to getting to know her,” he said in a statement. “She has spent the past two decades at one of the most prominent accounting firms in the country, so I’d particularly like to discuss her priorities for improving IRS customer service for working folks.”

One of his colleagues, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, also welcomed Collins’ appointment and said he looked forward to meeting with her to discuss her vision for representing low- and middle-income taxpayers. “I also look forward to discussing the challenges that she will be undertaking in this role, including implementation of the Taxpayer First Act, issues arising from the current tax filing season, and efforts to ensure that IRS can better serve the needs of taxpayers,” Cardin said in a statement. “Congress created the National Taxpayer Advocate to serve as a strong, independent voice in the administration who answers only to the American taxpayers and Congress, and my hope is that Ms. Collins will continue this tradition.”

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IRS Nina Olson Steven Mnuchin KPMG Charles "Chuck" Rettig