Silverman Introduces Bill Creating Tax Assistance Office for District Taxpayers

D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) today introduced a bill that would establish an independent agency to assist District taxpayers with navigating and resolving complex tax problems.

“Taxes can be notoriously complicated to navigate, and problems with taxes even more so,” said Silverman. “This bill helps District taxpayers decipher confusing tax issues and ensures they are resolved quickly and efficiently.”

The bill would create an Office of the Taxpayer Advocate within District government, mirroring a federal office that annually assists thousands of American taxpayers resolve issues with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The federal office routinely addresses a range of issues, including disabled veterans seeking prompt refunds to avoid eviction, taxpayers recovering money after being victimized by tax return preparers, and individuals responding to IRS penalties and audits.

In addition to providing individual assistance to District taxpayers who have been unable to address tax-related issues through standard channels, the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate would submit an annual report with legislative recommendations to strengthen taxpayer rights, ideas for improving how the tax code is administered in the District, and a compilation of the most frequent and serious problems faced by District taxpayers.

The District’s Chief Financial Officer would maintain responsibility for frontline customer services, while the newly-created Office of the Taxpayer Advocate would provide additional assistance for especially complicated or lengthy matters. The office would not prepare tax returns or engage in litigation on behalf of patrons. With the bill’s passage, the District would join a number of states who provide a government-funded liaison who serves as a taxpayer rights advocate, including New York, Maryland, Virginia, and California.

“This bill will give our taxpayers a designated tax problem-solver, as well as make sure we’re continuously evaluating our tax practices,” Silverman said.

The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D-At Large), David Grosso (I-At Large), Robert White (D-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6). Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) was a co-sponsor.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance and Revenue.