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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Eric Friedman
(212) 382-6754

Kathryn Inman
(212) 382-6656

New York City Bar Association Urges Governor to Continue Operation of the Office of Taxpayer Rights Advocate

New York, February 23, 2011 – The New York City Bar Association’s Committee on State & Local Taxation has sent a letter to Governor Cuomo seeking his support for continuing the operation of the Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate within the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (the “Tax Department”) and ultimately for legislation that would formally codify the ombudsman position within the Tax Department.

The Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate (the "Office") is an independent organization within the Tax Department that was administratively created in 2009 to assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the Tax Department, identify problems and legislative solutions, and work with the Tax Department to improve processes.

“While we have found the Tax Department generally to be thoughtful, cooperative, cognizant of taxpayers' rights and even-handed in its application of the law, we recognize that there may be exceptions (often due to the size of the operation and the nature of its task of collecting tax revenue),” the letter states. “The Tax Department has also recently enhanced its enforcement of the Tax Laws, which has led to the filing of more tax warrants, an increase in the number of collection actions such as seizures and levies, as well as an increase in criminal investigations and prosecutions. While we recognize the need of the Tax Department to ensure compliance with the Tax Law, we believe it incumbent upon the Tax Department to collect revenue in a way that treats taxpayers fairly and in a timely, professional manner, primarily because our tax system depends on voluntary compliance.”

Citing 1,900 requests to the Taxpayers Rights Advocate from individuals and businesses for assistance since October 2009, the letter calls the Tax Department’s traditional informal dispute resolution process “not sufficient in responding to taxpayers’ claims and protests.”

The letter concludes, “We believe that the New York Taxpayer Rights Advocate is serving a vital role in advocating on behalf of New York taxpayers and resolving disputes with the Tax Department in a cost-effective manner and identifying systemic issues that affect the Tax Department's ability to perform its primary function of collecting revenue. In doing so, the Taxpayer Rights Advocate is helping to reduce the high costs to the Tax Department and taxpayers of litigation and formal dispute resolution, as well as promoting sound tax administration that encourages taxpayers to live, work and employ their capital in the State. As such, we enthusiastically ask for your support to continue the current Office of the Taxpayer Rights Advocate, as well as codify the Office within New York's Tax Law.”

Read the letter here: http://bit.ly/eGI2xz

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About the Association
The New York City Bar Association (www.nycbar.org), since its founding in 1870, has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.