New Podcast: National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson
February 3, 2010
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson returns to the Tax Policy Podcast this week to discuss her 2009 Annual Report to Congress, in which she outlines 21 problems focusing on the IRS's taxpayer service and tax collection practices. The number one problem facing taxpayers is the IRS's declining ability to answer telephone calls, according to the Olson:
"The IRS has been handling more calls than they have ever handled before. They are actually — with the staffing that they have — they are doing better in the sense that they are handling more calls. But the problem is that we are getting more calls. There's more demand for our live assistance. There's more demand for our correspondence. People are communicating with us. So my recommendation – partly why I made this the number one most serious problem is because bad things happen to taxpayers if they can't get through to the IRS."
She also discusses aggressive enforcement procedures that often encourage a cycle of noncompliance among taxpayers without producing revenue. Over the last 10 years, the number of levies issued by the IRS against taxpayers increased by 1600 percent and the number of liens filed increased by 475 percent. This is compared to overall inflation-adjusted collection revenue in the same period, which declined by 7 percent.
Olson has been a guest on the Tax Policy Podcast twice before, and also is a recipient of the Tax Foundation's Public Sector Distinguished Service Award.