Nina Olson: The Softer Side of the IRS

The national taxpayer advocate, who’s retiring soon, gives frustrated taxpayers a voice.

(Image credit: 2012 The Christian Science Monitor)

Since 2001, Nina Olson, the IRS’s national taxpayer advocate, has been on a mission: to make sure taxpayers’ rights are protected when they’re up against a government agency that many Americans find intimidating, if not downright terrifying. Under her tenure, the Taxpayer Advocate Service, created in 1996, has helped more than 4 million taxpayers resolve problems, ranging from frozen tax refunds to tax liens that threaten an individual’s livelihood.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is designed to help taxpayers who “have a significant hardship as a result of IRS actions or are about to experience significant hardship,” Olson says. In some cases, the TAS may get involved even though “the IRS is doing nothing wrong, but it’s not acting fast enough, and because of that it’s going to create economic harm,” she says.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.