The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel has released its annual report calling for changes at the Internal Revenue Service to provide better customer service and reduce the burden on taxpayers.

The advisory group issued 135 recommendations to the agency about various ways to make life a little easier for taxpayers, including improving numerous IRS notices, forms and publications, as well as the signs and visual aids in the IRS’s Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

Other recommendations include making the content clearer in the various Audit Technique Guides used by the IRS for various industries and professions; improving the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and promoting financial education and asset building materials.

They also recommended that IRS telephone assistors should not insist that taxpayers turn off their speakerphones. Some of the telephone assistors have told taxpayers they would not help them if they talked over a speakerphone. The members of the panel noted that the use of a speakerphone is not prohibited in the Internal Revenue Manual used by assistors, so the IRS agreed to issue a special alert to remind the assistors that the use of a speakerphone is not prohibited in the manual.

TAP members are appointed by the Treasury Department from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. They serve three-year terms, with approximately one-third replaced each year by new volunteers. The TAP is chartered as an independent advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide a taxpayer perspective on critical tax administration programs.

A copy of the report is available at www.improveirs.org.

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