Congress should require the IRS to adopt a long-term research strategy to figure out how taxpayers can be convinced to comply voluntarily with tax regulations as part of its efforts to close the "tax gap," the National Taxpayer Advocate's office recommended in a report delivered to Congress today.
"Even as Congress directs the IRS to address specific areas of noncompliance, Congress should require the IRS to adopt a long-term research strategy that focuses not only on 'closing the tax gap' but also on understanding what it takes to encourage taxpayers to be voluntarily compliant and how to change taxpayer behavior," wrote Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson in the report.
The report, which is required annually by law, sets out three main objectives for the advocate's office: improve taxpayer services; ensure taxpayers' rights are protected in the IRS's debt collection initiative; and make the IRS's "offer in compromise" program accessible for taxpayers unable to pay their full tax bill. Many taxpayers have been unable to use the program because they are unable to make the required 20 percent down payment, according to the advocate's report.
The National Taxpayer Advocate's Report to Congress - Fiscal Year 2008 Objectives also provides statistical information and analysis of taxpayer issues.