Ask the Advocate December 2018 Tax News

End of 2018

Susan Maples, Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate
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We are rapidly approaching the end of 2018 and the Holiday Season is here!  As I often do this time of the year, I look back on the many different projects, meetings, events, and other matters that filled our year here in the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocates Office (TRAO).  One of the more noteworthy developments for 2018 was the recently approved realignment of the Taxpayer Appeals Assistance Program (TAAP) from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) to FTB, under the TRAO beginning January 2019.

I want to let you know about TAAP because many tax professionals are unaware of this important and valuable program. Taxpayers who have appealed FTB actions to the Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) are able to seek free legal assistance through TAAP.  Under TAAP, qualified law students assist taxpayers during the appeal process. These students do not answer to FTB’s Executive Officer or our Management Team and they are independent of other areas of the department. The law students are supervised by an experienced attorney and they research and draft appeal briefs, handle other matters on behalf of the appellant, and appear at the hearing before the OTA with or on behalf of the taxpayer. Most importantly, taxpayers’ privacy is protected by the attorney/client privilege.

While TAAP is a valuable program, it is currently limited to disputes involving less than $30,000 and to the following tax issues:

  • Head of household filing status
  • Penalty relief
  • Residency Request to remove or stop interest
  • Statute of limitations
  • Federal action (notice of proposed assessment based on an action by the Internal Revenue Service)
  • California’s method to tax nonresidents/part-year residents
  • Child and dependent care credits
  • Exemption credits
  • Other state tax credits
  • Personal income tax deductions
  • Corporate minimum tax
  • Innocent spouse claims

Since its inception in 2006, TAAP has helped resolve hundreds of cases.  Without this vital program, taxpayers would have to face the OTA alone, hire representation they may not be able to afford, or just give up and pay the disputed bill. I appreciate the hard work of the volunteer law students and others who make TAAP work.  Additionally, providing representation to taxpayers in these circumstances helps to ensure the rights, privacy, and property of California taxpayers during the process of assessing and collecting taxes. We anticipate having complete information about TAAP on our website in January.

In closing, I want to wish everyone a very happy and joyous 2018 Holiday Season! I hope that you are able to enjoy some time away from work with family and friends before embarking on what we all expect will be an interesting and eventful 2019 Filing Season.