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Taxpayer Advocacy Panel seeks new members to improve the IRS

Want to work up close with the IRS to improve the taxpayer experience? Join the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP).

TAP is a federal advisory committee created to get input from taxpayers, identify key tax system issues and make recommendations to people who can actually do something about  improving IRS service.

Don't roll your eyes. It's real. I served a three-year term and it was a great (but busy!) experience.


In addition to offering suggestions directly to IRS personnel for service improvement throughout the year, TAP reports to the Treasury Secretary, the IRS Commissioner and the National Taxpayer Advocate.

And although TAP's annual meeting is in the nation's capital and we get to meet with Washington, D.C., pooh-bahs, the Panel's goals are targeted to real tax life beyond the Beltway.

A lot of y'all, for example, are thinking right now about getting an extension to file your tax returns. One document, Form 4868, will get you six extra months to complete your tax paperwork (but remember to pay any tax you owe by April 18!).

It used to be a two-step process to fully postpone your filing. You filed one extension request to get until mid-August, then a second one to have until mid-October.

TAP was instrumental in streamlining the extension process.

And that's just one tax-filing improvement TAP has helped implement over the years. You can find more ways TAP has helped improve the IRS in its annual reports.

Be part of the success: If you'd like to be part of making the taxpayer experience better, apply to join the panel.

TAP has volunteer members from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Members serve staggered three-year terms so that each year veterans make up two-thirds of the group, helping the 30 or so new volunteers learn the ropes.

TAP currently is looking for new members from Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Alternates are needed for Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and West Virginia.

To join TAP you must be

  • a U.S. citizen,
  • current with your federal tax obligations,
  • able to spend 300 to 500 volunteer hours during the year on TAP projects (a lot of conference calls!) and
  • able to pass an FBI criminal background check.

New TAP members will serve a three-year term starting in December 2011. Alternate members will be considered to fill any vacancies that open in their area during the next three years.

You can apply online through April 29.

If you'd like to speak to someone about TAP or the application process, you can call toll-free 1-888-912-1227.

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