Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate’s Office Mission and Annual Report
It is the Mission of Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate’s Office (TRAO) to work with Franchise Tax Board (FTB) program areas to protect taxpayers’ rights. The TRAO identifies systemic problems and finds solutions in a cooperative effort while protecting taxpayers’ rights and recognizing the goals of our audit, collection, and filing programs. We also coordinate the resolution of taxpayer complaints and problems, including complaints regarding unsatisfactory treatment by FTB employees. We promote integrity and responsibility, so our taxpayers can rely on quality information and efficient service.
With that mission in mind, each year the TRAO submits the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights Annual Report to the Legislature in response to the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (Stats. 1988, Ch. 1573), California Revenue and Taxation Code (R&TC) Sections 21006 and 21009. The report is due by December 1 of each year. In this year’s report, the Advocate delivers an address where emerging issues are identified and ten areas of concern and challenges that both taxpayers and FTB face are explored. Here is a summary of a few areas of concern:
- Audit Retention and Training – FTB auditors receive training, but is it enough? Should they be required to have a minimum amount of training similar to professional certification requirements?
- Conformity – State laws are moving farther away from conformity to federal laws. The lack of conformity affects the ability to self-assess and increases:
- Tax return preparation burden.
- Taxpayer cost.
- Taxpayer errors.
- Taxpayer penalties.
- State administrative costs.
- Customer Service – The department continues to increase the volume of notices mailed without analyzing from an enterprise-wide perspective the impact these mailings have on customer service. Our analysis shows a direct impact on customer service.
- Claims for Tax Refunds – We are concerned with amended tax return processing time frames and the lack of interest paid for the State of California’s use of taxpayer money. Specifically, we are concerned with the processing of corporate tax refund claims.
These are just a few of the issues identified for the report. For more information on the above issues and the rest of the Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate Report, please see the Annual Report to the Legislature.