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What Is Systemic Advocacy?


"The TAS employee's job is not done when he or she closes out a particular case. Taxpayer Advocate Service employees have, as part of their statutory job description, the responsibility to think systemically about that case" -- Nina E. Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate, June 30, 2002.

Our mission in the Taxpayer Advocate Service reaches beyond individual cases and extends into the realm of Systemic Advocacy. The role of Systemic Advocacy is evident in the TAS mission statement: "As an independent organization within the IRS, we help taxpayers resolve problems within the IRS and recommend changes that will prevent the problems." This means we try to repair systemic flaws in the IRS and the tax code, which can cause trouble for taxpayers and IRS employees alike. What are systemic advocacy issues?

  • They always affect multiple taxpayers.
  • They are not individual taxpayer problems.
  • They affect segments of the taxpayer population, locally, regionally or nationally.
  • They relate to IRS systems, policies, and procedures.
  • They require study, analysis, administrative changes or legislative remedies.
  • They involve protecting taxpayer rights, reducing or preventing taxpayer burden, ensuring equitable treatment of taxpayers or providing essential services to taxpayers.

If you have information about one of these problems -- a systemic issue that might affect a significant number of taxpayers and not an individual problem that pertains only to you -- we'd like to hear about it.  For example, if your family is suffering from economic hardship as the result of an unresolved federal tax dispute, you may be eligible for help from one of our case advocates.  On the other hand, if you and several friends or business associates are all experiencing the same tax problem, you may have identified an issue for us to examine and resolve

We receive issues through the Systemic Advocacy Management System, or SAMS, a database of issues, ideas and suggestions from the public and IRS employees.  To submit an issue to SAMS and the TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy:

  1. Click on the link labeled "SAMS" at the bottom of this page.
  2. Take a minute to read the information on the SAMS welcome page, then click the button at the bottom.
  3. Answer a few questions to determine whether you have a systemic issue.  You'll be directed to the SAMS Issue Submission page based on your responses.
  4. Fill in the required fields and give us a brief description of the issue.  Do not submit any taxpayer information such as your social security number.

After being reviewed, some issues become advocacy projects.  These projects identify and attempt to develop solutions for problems affecting large numbers of taxpayers, such as the Alternative Minimum Tax or AMT,  Innocent Spouse claims,  Federal Tax Deposit (FTD) requirements and refund issues. We also ensure that the taxpayer's voice is heard on IRS teams and task forces on matters ranging from disaster relief to offer-in-compromise to redesigning and simplifying tax forms.

The TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy also assists in the development of the National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress, which examines the tax code and IRS procedures, pinpointing problem areas and recommending solutions. As required by law, each year's Report describes at least 20 of the most serious problems facing individual and business taxpayers; reviews the ten tax issues most often litigated in the federal courts; and outlines proposals for changing the law to address systemic problems and ease the burden on taxpayers.  Some of the issues submitted to us on SAMS may become part of the report.

To submit an issue to the TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy, click below:
SAMS -- Systemic Advocacy Management System 

For more information about TAS Systemic Advocacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).


Page Last Reviewed or Updated: September 12, 2008