Ask the Advocate April 2019 Tax News

Another tax season coming to a close

Susan Maples, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
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Tax News is similar to many publications in that much of our content is written ahead of our publishing date. Because we are a monthly newsletter, “ahead of time” for us usually means two to three weeks. As I’m writing this, there is still one month left before the initial April 15 filing deadline, which means another month of long days for many tax professionals in order to get everything done. Thankfully though, by the time we publish this month’s issue of Tax News and you are reading this, the first part of 2019 tax season will be that much closer to wrapping up.

I’ve heard several times now from tax professionals that the challenges they’re facing in getting returns done this year are much greater than in past years. One practitioner told me this was the most challenging filing season for her since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986!  Several of my staff previously worked in large and small public accounting firms (as CPAs or EAs) and while they miss working closely with many of their longtime clients, they don’t miss the evening and weekend work hours that were common this time of year. I am thankful for their having this experience because it helps them to better understand the day to day challenges you face as a tax professional.

Later this year, I plan on attending several events and conferences, including those sponsored by the California Society of Tax Consultants, the California Society of Enrolled Agents, the Latino Tax Professionals Association, the National Associations of Tax Professionals and the IRS Tax Forum. At these events, I look forward to hearing from you how this filing season went and whether there are things under our control that FTB could do to make things go smoother for you. I know there is a desire for conformity to many of the provisions of the TCJA, and I want to make sure that we share your concerns and ideas with our elected officials as they consider changes to the tax code.

Finally, I want to let you know that in order to better serve you, our call centers are again temporarily extending the hours you can reach us by phone. From April 1 through April 15 our extended hours are 7am until 6pm. If you have ever worked in a call center or had to answer a phone all day, you know that this work is demanding and requires a talented person to do the job well. I commend the many dedicated customer service representatives we have to help you, especially those who volunteered to work on Monday April 1, which is a State Holiday and on Saturday April 13, when our call centers will be open from 8am to 5pm to handle your last minute questions.