American citizens who are resident overseas, and who would like a chance to help to make the U.S. Internal Revenue Service better and more accountable to taxpayers, are now being invited to apply for the soon-to-be-vacated international seat on the IRS's Taxpayer Advocacy Panel.
Applications for the three-year role are now being accepted, and must be received by May 14, according to a notice published on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel's website.
The seat is currently held by Paris-based Laura Snyder (pictured left), whose three-year-term won't end until Dec. 31. But she says the recruitment process is lengthy, possibly because it's not a conventional job in most respects: It's not full-time, nor does it pay a salary, although expenses are reimbursed.
This meant something back when people used to travel, the Paris-based Dr. Snyder points out, as during normal times TAP holds a two-and-a-half day, face-to-face annual meeting. Lately that's been held online.
"In terms of commitment, it would require about 200 to 500 hours of a person's time a year, in order for them to be effective in the role," Dr. Snyder, who has herself been living abroad since 1995, adds.
"Expenses are reimbursed, which meant something back when people used to travel, as there was a two-and-a-half day face-to-face TAP meeting held annually. That's been held online lately, of course.
According to its appropriately-named website – ImproveIRS.org – The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel is a "Federal Advisory Committee" which exists "to listen to taxpayers, identify taxpayers' issues, and make suggestions for improving IRS service and customer satisfaction."
It's comprised of around 75 members who volunteer to serve for three years, and who, in addition to the sole overseas' representative, represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the website adds.
According to Dr. Snyder, those considering applying for her TAP role would be able to hear her explain more about it this Thursday (April 15, 6:30pm European time) during the next monthly, online "Meet Up" of the Paris-based Association of Americans Resident Overseas, which she recently became a board member of.
More information and registration details may be found by clicking here.
There's also a TAP recruitment video on YouTube, (from which the images at the top and bottom of this article were taken), and which may be viewed by clicking here.
Third 'int'l taxpayer TAP member'
In an article she wrote for the American Expat Financial News Journal during her first year in the role, Dr. Snyder said that she believed herself to be only the third TAP member to represent “international taxpayers.”
"There are no special educational or professional requirements to be a TAP member," she went on.
"It's not even necessary to be a tax professional of any kind – though some members are.
"All that is required is that one be a U.S. citizen, be up-to-date personally with one's own federal tax obligations, be able to pass a fingerprint and background check, and not be a federally-registered lobbyist."
Dr. Snyder then explained the two principal activities the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel carries out – collecting and examining taxpayer suggestions, and coming up with recommendations based on these that are then submitted to the IRS, in addition to reaching out to members of the U.S. tax-paying public in their constituencies.
Originally from Eureka, Illinois, Dr. Snyder, who has spent most of the past 25 years in France, apart from two years in the UK, says she expects she'll continue to live on the outskirts of Paris after her TAP term ends, in addition to continuing her work on behalf of expatriate Americans, both as a member of the newly-formed advocacy organization known as SEAT (Stop Extra-territorial American Taxation), which she heads up.
The "Dr." before her name is fairly new, as she completed a PhD from the University of Westminster, in London, in 2018, just before taking up her TAP post.
'Call for suggestions'
Dr. Snyder may have just eight months left in her TAP seat, but as her involvement with SEAT and AARO suggest, she's still determined to ensure that expats' voices are heard in Washington, and says she invites any American expats with ideas for making the way the U.S. taxes them and other Americans abroad to share their concerns with her.
"TAP addresses systemic issues only – that is, issues that affect many people," she points out. "It doesn't address issues that are specific/personal for a given individual – Local Taxpayer Advocates (LTAs) address those.
"TAP also addresses service issues only, [meanting that it isn't able] to address issues that would require a legal or regulatory change."
Anonymous suggestions are also possible, Dr. Snyder says, although those who opt for this approach won't be able to monitor the progress of their suggestion, as an email address is necessary for this.. "though entirely optional."
The TAP is also accepting applications for TAP membership in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, International, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
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