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Congress should clarify the role of the Internal Revenue Service in administering the Earned Income Tax Credit, Tax Advocate Nina Olson, said in report relesed to Congress this month. Other changes should include new definitions and processes, along with establishing minimum standards for tax preparers, the results said.

The Earned Income Tax Credit: Making the EITC Work for Taxpayers and the Government, written by a team with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, contains major recommendations for changes to the EITC program.  

"As we show throughout this report, the way the EITC is structured and the way the IRS is administering it often harms the very taxpayers it is intended to serve," Olson said in a prepared statement.

A major recommendation was clarifying the IRS's role, including the IRS' acknowledging its role in administering benefits programs such as the EITC. That requires employees with different skills and a separate set of practices and processes, the report said. Besides preventing improper payments, the IRS should also help taxpayers to receive benefits for which they are eligible. 

Redesigning the EITC to separate the worker component from the family-size component of the credit. It should also revise the definition of a qualifying child.

The report says minimum standards for taxpayers and software providers would protect taxpayers and improve the accuracy of EITC claims

Congress should determine if the administrability of tax provisions, especially family and child-related provisions whose eligibility criteria may be difficult if not impossible for the IRS to verify. It should also hold regular oversight hearings, giving the IRS the opportunity to identify successes and challenges in the laws it administers. Such forms would also provide a forum for Congress to hear from a variety of interest groups.

The report was written by a team of EITC experts led by Professor Leslie Book of the Villanova University School of Law, who served as a “professor in residence” with TAS, and Margot Crandall-Hollick, an EITC expert with the Congressional Research Service.

Last modified on Wednesday, 17 July 2019
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