ACA: “SHE’S DONE IT AGAIN! Nina Olson, Taxpayer Advocate within the IRS, has issued her semi-annual report to Congress. Lucidly written and comprehensible by laypeople, it’s an eye-opening read. Significant space is given to problems of Americans
abroad (and some footnotes giving ACA as source). Not only does she identify the source of each problem; she also proposes commonsense solutions, including stop-gap measures when necessary. Definitely worth reviewing.”
Read the report for yourselves at: http://www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/Annual-Reports-To-Congress/fy-2013-objectives-report-to-congress-full-report
I note that it is a report to Congress–that it should be read and understood by them all. When I call and write to my Senators and Representative, they should be fully aware of what the blazes I am talking about.
This report was also previously referenced here:
And I even commented on it, doh! Sorry @nobledreamer…
Don’t know why ACA would post this on Facebook today. For those who’d like to refresh their memories 🙂
You’ll notice too that the TAP Taxpayer Advocacy Panels have no members/representatives from outside the US, address no ‘international’ issues, and do not mention banking problems, OVDs, FBARs, FATCA, and the huge problem with the erroneous 3520 letters, etc. in their reports http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011-TAP-Annual-Report/11/prweb10143378.htm
They are supposed to make suggestions and identify taxpayer problems with the IRS. Funny, we’re classed as ‘taxpayers’ by the US – on top of our role as taxpayers where we live and work, but for the purposes of identifying problems and soliciting input – we’re formally (and deliberately?) left out of the structures the IRS sets up.
Hmmm, I haven’t heard back:
The Presedential Commission proposed by Carolyn Maloney and Mike Honda could spent it’s entire budget and time just gathering the really obvious greivances we have about the IRS – they are so obvious and egregious – like posting that you’re cutting in-person services in Canada at the same time that you’re busy threatening us in the press if we don’t come forward and comply. There is no end of material to submit – and the evidence is so obvious that it wouldn’t bear any scrutiny.
That is why it will not ever succeed in seeing the light of day. There are too many glaring inequities and injustices – too embarassing and hard for the IRS and Treasury and Congress to explain away.
The lack of any ‘international’ input or positions on the TAP, or in it’s reports is a very obvious discrimination against > 6 million forcibly defined as ‘taxable persons’ outside the US. There is no body tasked with representing the interests of international taxpayers abroad – who face exponentially more difficulty with obscure complex forms, and exponentially more threatening fines and penalty structures – yet more often owe no actual US tax.
Well I’ve started reading. This immediately caught my eye:
F. TAS Will Continue Advocating for American Taxpayers Abroad Who Are Expressing Fear and Frustration about FBAR, FATCA and Other International Penalties . . . . 21
G. TAS Will Continue to Advocate that the IRS Modify the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program so that People Who Made Honest Mistakes Can Correct them Without Fear of Excessive Penalties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
H. TAS Will Work with the IRS on Improving Taxpayer Service Options for International Taxpayers and Alleviating Their Compliance Challenges . . . . . . . . 30
as this is addressed to Congress, I see that this could be used as a frame for any focused discussion one might take with one’s congressman or Senator. This is important, as it is extremely difficult to have a discussion with such a comprehensive topic we have.
*Calgary 411 – thank you for pointing this out
*The NTA is nothing but an alibi exercise. I often wonder how many of those MacMansions you see in the Virginia hills on the approach to Dulles house these useless bureaucrats. Does anyone really think that the NTA has a clue about what expats go through because of this worldwide taxation? Any tax collected from US expats is money stolen from a foreign economy – in other words, US colonialism.
*Here is what Americans in Switzerland can expect for the next 4 years:
“I often wonder how many of those MacMansions you see in the Virginia hills on the approach to Dulles house these useless bureaucrats”
You are on to something. I happen to have the home addresses of many of the top officials involved in FATCA. I personally choose and at this point see no reason to publish them however, you are not far off the mark although look more on the Maryland side of the Potomac.
I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you. I have had personal dealings with Nina Olsen and the fine staff at the NTA offices, and theirs is one of the few bureaucracies that I really respect. The other is the FDIC under Shelia Bair.
You are a new commenter here. (or at least I have not seen your name before)
We welcome your comments, but being new, as such, you can not know of my appeal to the TAS, and how they represented me inside the OVDI when I was getting no respite any other way.
If you want to be bored with a long OVDP story, and my appeal to the TAS which at the time, was unique, you can read it here..
Without their advocacy on my behalf inside the 2009 OVDP, I would have really been hosed, so I do think they are a very sincere group. Unfortunately the NTA, inspite of its independence and direct reporting to Congress, the NTA also has a reporting structure to the IRS Commissioner inside the IRS bureaucracy. This can stymie their advocacy, as we saw when the last guy, Shulman, stonewalled her TAD (Tax Advisory Directive) on “Bait and Switch”. which she went public with in her 2011 report to Congress
Nina has been at this job for over a decade, and was the 1st appointee when the position was created by Congress. Her mandate is advocacy for Tax payers, and not just carry the IRS water. She takes that responsibility seriously. Her Reports to Congress are an important window into the problems within the IRS, that would never come to light without her position. Now, where the real problem lies is with Congress, who either don’t really read these things or take any action, so that is where I would place blame. I would not call her reports just Alibis.
Within the IRS, it is only she and the Commissioner who can report directly to Congress, and so her advocacy is important and important counter balance to IRS leadership. She is a friend of Americans Abroad, and more than any one in Congress or in IRS understands the plight of Expats. Now, if the Commissioner just reported to her, we would have more progress. 🙂
Also, out on the public speaking circuit, she is very forth right about things that are wrong with the IRS practices related to the 2009 and 2011 OVDP/OVDI and tax treatment of Americans abroad. You might want to read this account here.
She gets what is wrong with the IRS and their processes. All she needs is a Commissioner that will either partner with her for changes, or a Congress that will direct the changes. So far, she has had neither. So, since she can’t really command changes, the only other way to effect policy is send another message in addition to the yearly reports to Congress. She does this via public addresses like the link above.
I think the timing of this one is significant, as it comes on the heels of the departure of Doug Shulman. I think the comments are very much targeted to the new temporary Commissioner, Steven Miller. That is really her audience. She is not just beeching him in private to do the right thing, she making the disagreement public.
There will be those in the belly of the beast, who will not welcome her assessments and suggestions in such a public forum. Good for her! It is the only thing she can do, as she can not actually direct them to change the OVDP process. With this speech, and the recently released 2013 report she is showing that she is not just rolling over on Expat and OVDP issues, and is not going away. She continues to speak out. That takes some politicalconjes.
Had she just dropped it, and moved onto other subjects when first stonewalled by Shulman, then I would take your criticism as valid. That has not been her modus operandi however. We should encourage her, not criticize, IMHO. The wheels of the IRS bureaucracy are slow moving, but with persistence, she may get the titanic to alter course. Time will tell.
I have to say that the only time during this whole ordeal that I felt any kind of comfort was when my husband and I spoke with someone at TAS.
But I wonder if the NTA is a toothless tiger when Commissioner Schulman is allowed to leave in a blaze of glory without having addressed the issues brought up by Nina Olson in her reports to Congress.
*I would agree with JustMe that the TAS is one of the few arms of the US government symphathetic to expats. I would even more recently put TIGTA(Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration). In the past like ten years ago TIGTA did encourage the IRS to be “tougher” on expats but more recently TIGTA seems to be doing a real “job” on the IRS senior management over just about everything ITIN fraud, Refund fraud, IRS employees stealing refunds etc. I can’t imagine Schulman left at all pleased with TIGTA.
My favourite part of what Ms. Olson said (in link cited by Just Me above) was:…..”“Such an approach would increase voluntary compliance and would stop terrorizing the entire country of Canada,” Olson observed.”…. She doesn’t just say things without a very good reason, and evidence.
All those writing to your Canadian MPs – should cite the Taxpayer Advocate’s comments above, re Canada – which contradict Flaherty’s statements that he is pleased that ‘the IRS has listened’. Same with the BS being peddled by the US Ambassador to Canada. There still is no clear and transparent, inexpensive and truly do-it-yourself road to compliance – even for the many with no US tax owed. No-one knows the outcome of the streamlined compliance applications. The IRS refuses to be transparent or accountable.
They torment us for nothing.
I find it increasingly ironic that we’re here closely following FATCA, which ordinarily we wouldn’t be doing, and we’re writing letters etc. , talking to politicians, and creating community and alliances – at least some attempts at stopping it or shining a light on it in the absence of any public consciousness about what it means. We wouldn’t be so very motivated to do that without the resentment and harsh feelings that the US IRS and Treasury, etc. have generated amongst us. When you lose large sums to prove you owe zero taxes, and know it was absolutely for nothing – it scars you. When you were almost about to lose your sanity and self over this – it scars you, and you never will forget it. That is what the US has sowed. And, will reap the fruits of that re anti-FATCA lobbying – the biggest law we’d never heard of.
Once you make an enemy out of a customer, you have a amplified negative marketing influence 10x the power of any possible action you can do later to correct it! Comissioner Shulman, with his execution of the OVDP/OVDI has done irreparable harm to their brand to say nothing about the scars it has left you with!
Shulman liked to brag that the IRS was like a big business, but he never learned one of the most basic tenants,
But, guys like Shulman are incapable of understanding!
I’m new to IBS so just now became acquainted with your experience via your link above. I couldn’t stop reading through it until I reached the very end, it was so compelling. OMG – what a horror story! I had to go and have a lie down to recover afterwards! You have my deepest sympathy and I just hate to think of the toll that long, sorry saga actually took on your physical health, stress levels, and sanity. Your behavior, composure, and attention to detail were exemplary! Thank goodness you are still alive to tell the tale and warn others.
Gee, that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time. Thank you. You must really be a gluten for punishment, if you read the WHOLE thing! I am astounded.
Like any painful experience, if you keep your sanity you do move on, and the pains of child birth do subside, right?. I learned a BIG lesson in how a government bureaucracy thinks and acts, and have been determined to pay back the IRS and the Country with the negative marketing message it deserves. I am definitely Comply, Complain and WARN, with a lot of emphasis on the warnings these days.
In case you think that I might be a bitter old man, I have learned to subdue the anger as that ends up hurting me more than the object of my scorn. I did learn some life lessons. If I can warn one other poor fool to avoid the pitfalls I went through, I think it is worth it. It makes me feel good, and the poor sods at the IRS never feel the loss.
And Rose, welcome to Isaac Brock. There are some real good people commenting here, which I am sure you are discovering.
I would think that any”trends” in accuracies by tax professionals is a pretty good indication that the IRS has itself screwed up, and as a result causing mass errors by the preparers. Only a sociopath would blame the victim for his own errors, instead of looking at how he may have perhaps played a part in the problem. Incompetent comes to mind. Good riddance!
Re: Tim and Just Me
company where I work “alibi exercise” is the word used to describe an
activity undertaken for no reason other than to be able to say that the
activity was undertaken.
that Congress created the Tax Advocate Service (TAS) to assist individuals who
have problems with the IRS. In that sense, the NTA’s 2013 Objectives Report
To Congress is indeed not an alibi exercise and I apologize for my
misstatement. If Congress doesn’t read or take much action based on the report,
then you have to say that the Congress carried out an alibi exercise when it
established the TAS. “Hey Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, look what we’ve done for
I am indeed
a newcomer to Isaac Brock, however my interest in what is happening to US
expats and how they are dealing with the newest waves of persecution is not so
new. It just wasn’t so easy to stumble upon the website. Is there a conspiracy
out there to hinder critical voices? Could it be that the US Government employs
the same evil methods of blocking websites that it accuses the Chinese and
In trying to
understand the problems we expats face, it is seldom clear to me how much of
the discrimination against us originates in the law and how much in IRS
arrogance and ignorance. For example, the thousands of dollars that I donate
yearly to various European charities are not deductible because they are not
registered in the US. Is this law or is this IRS hate and patriotism?
A US expat
acquaintance with a Swiss citizen wife and father of three sons cannot pass US
citizenship on to his sons because he was resident in the US only from birth to
age 6. Apparently, he should have had 5 years residency after the age of 18 to
pass on citizenship. (This used to piss him off. Then he got pissed off enough
to renounce US citizenship and now he’s actually glad he could not pass on this
US citizenship curse to his sons.) This unfair treatment clearly can be traced
to Congressional incoherence. He had another issue that was clearly IRS
stupidity. It took 3 years to get his youngest son registered with the IRS as a
dependent. The IRS caseworker kept insisting that 1, 2 and 3 year-old Junior
come to Washington and get registered! Oh yeah, the best one of all: His wife
had never lived or worked in the US so lacking a SSN, she was not his wife for
purposes of filing a US income tax return. The problem was that he somehow did
not qualify as head of household either.
another issue that affects us all. US currency has devalued against the Swiss
Franc by around 25% since 2007. Therefore, using the IRS exchange rates his
salary increased by 25% during that time, which of course had a predictable
effect on the value of the FEIE.
goodie before I run out of gas. Ronald worked and lived for decades in a Switzerland.
The FEIE made the US tax bite halfway tolerable. Ronald actually likes living
among folks who speak a strange language and who don’t start drinking their
wine before a toast is made. So upon retirement, he didn’t return to the US
like Congress would like him to. Oops! His pension fund and local social
security are not earned income and FEIE is now useless. As a retiree taking in
30% less per month, Ronald now pays more tax to the US Government than when he
was working! Credit for tax paid to a foreign government? That works pretty
well in high tax, low cost of living countries like Germany. It doesn’t work so
well in low tax, high cost countries like Switzerland.
Thanks for your additional comments and insights. I understand better what you were trying to say. The fact that Congress does little with the Reports that Nina produces, certainly shows where the problem is!
I am glad you found us, and hope you continue to weigh in with your observations, experiences and insights. Diversity of opinion is important, and we try to keep it civil here! Tell others to come by and have a read. There is a wealth of information, as I think you are discovering.
All the best