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Taxpayer Advocate Collins Optimistic for 2023

Despite a significant number of challenges faced by taxpayers in 2022, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins has reason to be more optimistic for 2023.

“We have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Collins wrote in the 2022 annual NTA report to Congress, released on January 11, 2023. “I’m just not sure how much further we have to travel before we see sunlight.”

She highlighted three key areas that are providing a foundation for the optimistic outlook for this year:

  • The IRS has largely worked through its backlog of unprocessed returns, though there still remains a high volume of suspended returns and correspondence;
  • Congress has provided funding to increase customer service staffing; and
  • The agency has already added 4,000 new customer service and is seeking to add 700 additional employees to provide in-person help at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

Collins did caution that while she is optimistic for the future, the near term will still be faced with challenges. In particular, she noted that while new staff are being trained, some of the issues that have been plaguing the IRS will continue.

“As new employees are added, they must be trained.” Collins noted. “For most jobs, IRS does not maintain a separate cadre of instructors. Instead, experienced employees must be pulled off their regular caseloads to provide the initial training and act as on-the-job instructors. In the short run, that may mean that fewer employees are assisting taxpayers, particularly experienced employees who are likely to be the most effective trainers.”

2022 Challenges

Taking into consideration the time needed to train new employees, some of the challenges from 2022 that were highlighted in the report could still be an issue early into 2023.

That could mean ongoing processing and refund delays. The COVID-19 pandemic created a significant backlog of unprocessed returns and while the IRS has made strides to reducing that backlog, as of December 23, 2022, the agency reported it still has a backlogged inventory of about 400,000 individual tax returns and about 1 million business tax returns. It could also mean ongoing delays in processing taxpayer correspondence and other cases in the Accounts Management function.

Another issue that could linger as more employees are being trained is getting a live person on the telephone. NTA reported that about one in eight calls from taxpayers to the agency made it through to a live person, with hold times for taxpayers averaged 29 minutes.

Tax professionals were able to get through to a live person about ever one in six calls to the Practitioner Priority Service, with about 25 minutes of hold time on average.

“Tax professionals are key to a successful tax administration,” Collins wrote. “The challenges of the past three filing seasons have pushed tax professionals to their limits, raising client doubts in their abilities and created a loss of trust in the system.”


The report makes a number of recommendations both to the IRS and legislative recommendations to strengthen taxpayer rights and improve tax administration.

To the IRS, Collins recommends a couple of employee-related items – hiring and training more human resource employees to manage the hiring of all agency employees and ensuring all IRS employees are well-trained to do their jobs.

On the IT front, she also recommended improvements to online account accessibility and functionality to make them comparable to private financial institutions’ online accounts, as well as temporarily expand the uses of the documentation upload tool or similar technology. Also, there was a call to enable all taxpayers to e-file their tax returns.

Among the legislative recommendations are amending the “lookback period” to allow tax refunds for certain taxpayers who took advantage of the postponed filing deadlines due to COVID-19; establish minimum standards for paid tax preparers; expand the U.S. Tax Court’s jurisdiction to adjudicate refund cases and assessable penalties; modify the requirement that written receipts acknowledge charitable contributions must predate the filing of a tax return; and make the Earned Income Tax Credit structure simpler.

IRS Delays New Third-Party Settlement Reporting Threshold Enforcement, Notice 2023-10

The IRS announced a delay in reporting thresholds for third-party settlement organizations (TSPOs). As a result of this delay, third-party settlement organizations will not be required to report tax year 2022 transactions on a Form 1099-K to the IRS or the payee for the lower, $600 threshold amount enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ( P.L. 117-2).


Code Sec. 6050W requires payment settlement entities to file an information return for each calendar year for payments made in settlement of certain reportable payment transactions. The annual information return must set forth the (1) name, address, and taxpayer identification number (TIN) of the participating payee to whom payments were made; and (2) gross amount of the reportable payment transactions with respect to that payee. The returns must be furnished to the participating payees on or before January 31 of the year following the calendar year for which the return was made. Further, the returns must be filed with the IRS on or before February 28 (March 31 if filing electronically) of the year following the calendar year for which the return was made.

Transition Period

A TPSO will not be required to report payments in settlement of third party network transactions with respect to a participating payee unless the gross amount of aggregate payments to be reported exceeds $20,000 and the number of such transactions with that participating payee exceeds 200. This condition applies to calendar years beginning before January 1, 2023. The Service will not assert penalties under Code Sec. 6721 or 6722 for TPSOs failing to file or failing to furnish Forms 1099-K unless the gross amount of aggregate payments to be reported exceeds $20,000 and the number of transactions exceeds 200.

For returns for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2022, a TPSO would be required to report payments in settlement of third party network transactions with any participating payee that exceed a minimum threshold of $600 in aggregate payments, regardless of the number of such transactions. The delay does not affect requirements of Code Sec. 6050W that were not modified by the American Rescue Plan Act. Taxpayers that have performed backup withholding under Code Sec. 3406(a) during calendar year 2022 must file a Form 1099-K, Payment Card and Third-Party Network Transactions, with the IRS and furnish a copy to the payee if total payments to and withholding from the payee exceeded $600 for the calendar year.

Treasury Announces Clean Vehicle Tax Benefits, FAQS, Planned Guidance, Notice 2023-1, FS-2022-42

The IRS and Treasury have announced have released a list of clean vehicles that meet the requirements to claim the new clean vehicle tax credit, along with FAQs to help consumers better understand how to access the various tax incentives for the purchase of new and used electric vehicles available beginning January 1, 2023. The Service has clarified the incremental cost of commercial clean vehicles in 2023 and stated that, for vehicles under 14,000 pounds, the tax credit was 15-percent of a qualifying vehicle’s cost and 30-percent if, the vehicle is not gas or diesel powered.

The Service has also given a notice of intent to propose regulations on the tax credit for new clean vehicles, to provide clarity to manufacturers and buyers, on changes that take effect automatically on January 1, such as Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price limits. The notice has further clarified, that a vehicle would be considered as placed in service, for the purposes of the tax credit, on the date the taxpayer takes possession of the vehicle, which may or may not be the same date as the purchase date.

In order to help manufacturers identify vehicles eligible for tax credit, when the new requirements go into effect after a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is issued in March, the Treasury also released a white paper on the anticipated direction of their upcoming proposed guidance on the critical minerals and battery components requirements and the process for determining whether vehicles qualify under these requirements.