Ask the Advocate June 2019 Tax News

Update from the Advocates’ meeting

Susan Maples, Taxpayers' Rights Advocate.

Susan Maples, CPA
Taxpayers' Rights Advocate
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@FTBAdvocate

I meet quarterly with the Advocates and an Ombudsperson from California’s other tax agencies and the IRS.  I introduced you to several of them in our May 2018 Tax News. These meetings are a great opportunity to learn about issues facing taxpayers and tax professionals and possible solutions. The meetings also allow us to update our sister agencies on programs each agency administers.

When we met recently, I provided a brief update on the franchise and income tax portion of the Taxpayer Appeals Assistance Program (TAAP) which my office began administering at the beginning of this year. One of the more interesting things I shared was that nearly half of the people who appear before the Office of Tax Appeals (for all types of tax appeals) represent themselves. Every taxpayer deserves to have their voice heard, especially when appealing an action taken by a tax agency. I am proud of the work done by the law students who represent taxpayers and appreciate their efforts in furthering the mission of the Taxpayer Advocate.

We also shared updates about the business of cannabis and how each of our agencies is addressing issues surrounding compliance. Education and outreach plays an important role in the compliance effort, especially when you consider that the legal segment of this industry is still in its infancy. My staff attend and speak at many cannabis-related conferences and events. Based on the ever-increasing number of attendees, there is a real need to provide information to cannabis entrepreneurs.

Another agenda item was the planned updates to California Taxpayer Resources, a CDTFA publication which provides the taxes administered by each agency along with contact information for the Advocates from FTB, BOE, EDD, Go-Biz, IRS, and the Ombudsperson from OTA. This publication will be updated to reflect the most current Advocates and Ombudsperson. It is a great resource with all of the Advocates’ contact information in one place. Another “all in one” resource is the website for The California Tax Service Center, a partnership of California tax agencies providing links to each agency’s forms and publications, filing and payment options, tax rates and schedules, important dates and much more. This is a great resource for tax professionals and one you might consider bookmarking.

Finally, one additional conversation we had surrounded our collective outreach efforts to tax professionals whose first language is other than English. We are seeing a consistent growth in tax professionals attending these events, both large and small. California has a wonderfully diverse and vibrant multi-cultural population and I am proud that FTB is able to help everyone have their questions answered and meet their tax filing obligations.