By Dawn Hodson
What do you do once you retire? Why become a member of the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, of course.
Or at least that what Sam Sorich did. The president of the Association of California Insurance Companies for the past 25 years, Sorich retired in 2010 and started looking around for interesting things to do. Then something caught his eye. The Internal Revenue Service needed volunteers to serve on a panel that would recommend how to improve customer service.
After going through an interview and background check in 2011, Sorich was appointed to the panel by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury along with 26 other people. The El Dorado Hills man will serve for three years in the uncompensated position. He expects to put in about 500 hours each year over the next three years. This will consist mainly of conference calls, e-mail exchanges, readings, and two in-person panel meetings each year.
The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel consists of 100 members drawn from across the country. It is divided into 10 subcommittees, with each subcommittee tackling different issues.
“We don’t recommend legislative changes,” he said. “We also don’t advocate on behalf of individuals who have questions about their taxes.”
What they are charged with falls into three main areas: recommending improvements in how the IRS deals with consumers; recommending changes to publications and written materials; and improving how the IRS educates taxpayers on how to prepare their taxes, get refunds, and related subjects.
In line with this, Sorich is interested in getting feedback from people in these areas. “I hope to talk to as many people and groups as possible so I can try and identify issues that can be addressed by changes at the IRS.”
People can also send complaints or recommendations to his e-mail address, [email protected]. Comments should have something to do with system changes rather than problems people may have with personal taxes.
For those with individual tax problems Sorich suggested calling the local Taxpayer Advocate Office. That number is (916) 974-5007.