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What Do The National Taxpayer Advocate and David Letterman Have In Common?

By Joel N. Crouch on February 7, 2023
When I was in college, Late Night With David Letterman, which was on NBC immediately after The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, was must see TV. I know I am dating myself, but almost every weeknight my fraternity brothers and I would watch Late Night to see Dave, Paul Schafer, Larry "Bud" Melman, stupid pet tricks, stupid people tricks, the guy under the seats and other wacky bits. Of course, this was only after we had completed 2-3 hours of quality study time at the fraternity house.

I know from recent experience that you can waste a whole weekend watching old Late Night clips on YouTube, including an audience favorite, the nightly Top 10 list. The Top 10 list was usually topical, but could be anything, such as:

Top 10 Least-used Hyphenated Words.

    10. Lick-proof;
      9. Owl-flavored;
      8. Hat-resistant;
      7. Trunk-ripened;
      6. Gumbel-scented;
      5. Post-moistened;
      4. Hitler-riffic;
      3. Casket-tested;
      2. Pants-happy; and
      1. Mookie-proofed.

And a tax themed Top 10 List:

John Gotti's Top 10 Tax Tips

    10. You can deduct the entire piano even if you bought it just for the wire;
      9. Guys who escape from the trunk of your car may be considered business losses;
      8. No matter how much he relies on your business, a funeral director does not count as a
          dependent;
      7. Another write-off: long-distance calls to Pete Rose;
      6. You must actually kill someone in your home for it to qualify as "place of business";
      5. Three simple words to the auditor: "How's your family?";
      4. For a vacation to count as a business trip, return with 100 pounds of heroin;
      3. Smart-guy talk show hosts may end up with more medical expenses than they thought;
      2. When reporting income, be plausible. No pizzeria in the world takes in 3 billion dollars a
          day; and
      1. What H&R Block can't do, cement blocks can.

For those of you who are interested, you can find the Late Night Top 10 lists HERE but trust me watching David Letterman read them on YouTube is fantastic.

On January 11th, the National Taxpayer Advocate issued its annual report to Congress which includes a list of the most litigated issues, recommendations for strengthening taxpayer rights and improving tax administration and yes, a Top 10 list of the most serious problems encountered by taxpayers. In an homage to the Late Show and David Letterman, here is the Top 10 list of the most serious problems encountered by taxpayers according to the National Taxpayer Advocate:

      10. Taxpayers outside of the United States face significant barriers to meeting their
               U.S. tax obligations.
        9.  Staffing challenges and institutional culture remain barriers to quality taxpayer service
              within the IRS Independent Office of Appeals.
        8.  Taxpayers are harmed by the absence of minimum competency standards for return
              preparers.
        7.  Lack of transparency about processing delays and other key data frustrates
              taxpayers and may undermine voluntary compliance.
        6.  E-filing barriers and the absence of a free, easy-to-use tax software option cause
              millions of taxpayers to continue to file paper returns.
        5.  Inadequate digital services impede efficient case resolution and force millions of
              taxpayers to call or send correspondence to the IRS.
        4.  Taxpayers continue to experience difficulties and frustration obtaining telephone and
              face-to-face assistance to resolve their tax issues and questions.
        3.  Weaknesses in the Human Capital Office's hiring, recruitment, and training programs
              are undermining the IRS's efforts to achieve appropriate staffing to meet taxpayer
              needs.
        2. The complexity of the tax code burdens taxpayers and the IRS alike.

And the #1 most serious problems encountered by taxpayers according to the National Taxpayer Advocate,

  1. Paper backlogs caused refund delays for millions of taxpayers.
For anyone with insomnia or looking for some light reading, a copy of the advocate's report can be found HERE.

If you have any tax-related questions or would like to share your favorite Top 10 list, please feel free to contact me at jcrouch@meadowscollier.com.