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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Not Tapped by the TAP

Was it something I said?

Today's mail brought me a note from Sheila Andrews, Director, very graciously thanking me for my application to serve as a volunteer member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, but saying that "we are unable to offer you a position on the TAP at this time."

The TAP is "a group of 75 citizen volunteers who listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers’ issues, and make suggestions for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction."  For the 2015 panel they generously decided to include one American living abroad.

Yippity-skip, said I, and applied.

And the answer was "no".

Disappointed?  Yes and no.  I honestly thought I could do some good on the panel and I was ready to put in the hours (and the travel).

On the other hand it did occur to me after I sent off my application that membership in the panel and what I write on this blog about the U.S. tax system (and our issues with it) might not be a good mix.  If what they were looking for was a champion for the existing system that just needs a few tweaks and a bit of outreach to cajole those international taxpayers into cheerful compliance, then frankly I'm probably not the best person for the job.

I was however very amused by the form letter I received which was clearly written for Americans living in the homeland.  In the second paragraph I am invited to consider volunteering for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics which are "nationwide." The idea is intriguing, but when they say "nationwide" are they talking about U.S. territory or the scope of the American nation which includes 7 million American citizens outside the U.S.?

The first.  Looking at the list of clinics I see  no LITC's for taxpayers outside of the U.S.  And, of course, no opportunities for me to volunteer for such a thing where I live (along with roughly 100,000 other American citizens).

Not only is that a damn shame but it seems to me that this letter reveals a mindset that does not include Americans living outside the U.S. as part of their clientele.

Here's hoping that the international rep for the TAP can do something about that.  Probably not but, hey, I live in hope....


Blaze said...

what a disappointment. there would have been no one better.

maybe they really do not want 2 hear from americans abroad based on the letter--even though they did put out a call. i am not surprised.

4give lower case. in rehab care with broken shoulder and m.s. complications after month in hospital.

Ellen Lebelle said...

I was rooting for you.

Unknown said...

I seriously considered applying for TAP last year.

The ridiculous essay questions in the application put me off (hey! I'm not applying for college) and the idea of an FBI review (been there done that 30 years ago) and an IRS review was just too much.

The whole process had a bad smell!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Blaze! Oh my dear, you are in my thoughts daily.

Well, someone was tapped as the international rep for the panel(just wasn't me). The question is who did they choose?

Anyone know? I'd like a name so we can start writing letters. :-)

Ellen, anyway we can find out?

James, Yep, those were nasty questions. Do you recall the one where they asked if you had experience selling unpopular policy?

Leslie in Oregon said...

Yes, it is a damn shame...and very frustrating. If they had wanted a member who would represent taxpayers living outside the U.S., and who would do that efficiently and effectively, there would have been no better choice than you.

Anonymous said...

@Leslie in Oregon: If they had wanted a member who would represent taxpayers living outside the U.S, ...


Sally said...

Of course there are no LITCs outside of the US. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) does not have that kind of money.

The people working for the TAS can't even make phone calls outside of country code 1 (US and Canada). We have to call them. (They were quite apologetic about that.)

To get their help a few years ago I had to write a letter to Puerto Rico.

The help and advice was well worth it and worth the phone bill. So I'm not complaining (much).

Let's hope whoever was chosen for the panel is good.