The Taxpayer Advocate Service released in early July a subway style roadmap to the US Tax System (the Roadmap). That roadmap can be seen by clicking this sentence.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service has now released a detailed discussion to accompany the Roadmap. That discussion begins as follows:
On July 10th, my office released the 2019 Taxpayer Roadmap—a visual representation of the taxpayer’s journey through the tax system. I am enormously proud of this accomplishment. As someone with a strong background in fine arts (that was my undergraduate major), I have always thought that graphic presentation of complex information, transactions, and systems is one of the most effective tools for communication and comprehension. The Taxpayer Roadmap simultaneously and succinctly conveys, in ways words never can, the convoluted nature of our tax system and the taxpayer’s path through that system.
Although it may seem the map appeared out of nowhere, the roadmap has had a long gestation period, and I think it is worth describing the Roadmap’s roadmap, so to speak. The earliest version of the roadmap entered my life in 1993 as a pencil drawing in course materials for a Tax Practice and Procedure course I took at Georgetown University Law School, as part of the Masters of Law in Taxation degree program. I treasured that drawing—it was very reductive, and focused on a few vitally important steps in audit, appeals, litigation, and collection.
The map entered its next stage with the advent of funding for Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). With the first grant awards in 1999, new LITCs popped up throughout the country. Many were affiliated with legal service entities that previously had not provided representation in tax controversies. As Executive Director of The Community Tax Law Project, for two years I traveled the country conducting several two-day training sessions called “The Roadmap to a Tax Controversy” for LITC staff and volunteer attorneys. As part of the training materials I expanded and redesigned the roadmap a bit, so it became three maps, and it graduated from being a pencil drawing to a computer-generated drawing. I also incorporated the maps into the curricula for the tax practicum courses I taught at University of Richmond Law and William and Mary law schools.
Posted by Lewis J. Saret, Co-General Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal..