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Issue 41526

IRS Forms + Instructions // Expanded Foreign Language

Issue Statement: Dear Sir or Madam: Because of the implementation of FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) globally in concert with the US practice of Citizenship Based Taxation, it is expected that all US citizens are to file their US tax declarations and pay any monies owed to the IRS. As a result of FATCA, a rapidly growing population of Accidental Americans has come to the forefront plus those previously unidentified Americans who have never lived in the United States. Nevertheless, they are expected to follow US law where they live. Many in the aforementioned populations especially the Accidental American population do not speak, read, or write English or other more common languages. In order for these individuals to comply properly to US law, it is necessary for the IRS to expand its breadth of languages offered for the forms and instructions. The languages offered need to include French, German, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, etc. so that adherence to US law can be respected. I deal with a growing number of these individuals around the world as I speak three languages and I can confirm that it is exceedingly difficult for compliance since the IRS forms and instructions are not available in their native tongue. It is important to note that the vast majority of these individuals cannot afford the US tax compliance professional costs and fees in order to comply therefore it is imperative that they have at their disposal the necessary documents in their native tongue. Since the expectation is full compliance with the US tax system, when will the IRS forms and instructions be available in the languages needed? I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Keith
REDMOND American Overseas / Accidental American Global Advocate

Goal Statement: To determine if the IRS needs to develop instructions, forms, publication and other documentation in a much wider variety of foreign languages and to develop the capacity to communicate (including by telephone) with taxpayers living overseas in a much wider variety of foreign languages.

TAP RECOMMENDATION

Issue 41526 The IRS needs to ensure that US persons living overseas, who do not speak English or other common languages, are able to comply with their US taxation obligations. The IRS should develop instructions, forms, publication and other documentation in a much wider variety of foreign languages and develop the capacity to communicate (including by telephone) with taxpayers living overseas in a much wider variety of foreign languages. In addition to existing capacities in Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Russian, additional language capacities that the IRS must develop include, without limitation: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Slovenian, Croatian, Indonesian, Thai, Hebrew, Greek, Hindi, Turkish, Farsi, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Bulgarian, Romanian.

IRS Action:Considered

Issue 41526

This request was received by LB&I WIIC on 04/06/2020.

After consultation with the office responsible for the FATCA program, the office responsible for IRS forms and publications, the office responsible for online services, and the office responsible for assisting callers from outside the United States, some of the recommendations may be implemented by the end of the first quarter of FY2021.

Per the office responsible for the FATCA program, they do not currently have any plans to translate the FATCA web pages or products into any foreign languages. They do not have the resources or expertise to do so, any translations would need to be reviewed by Counsel in order to maintain the carefully crafted legal meanings within each translated page, and there are many recurring updates to the web pages and products that would make it unfeasible to update each foreign language page each time there is an update. However, they do welcome other countries to place their own translations of the FATCA web pages on their own government web sites. They are in a much better position to understand the nuances of the foreign language translations and helps eliminate any translation risks to the IRS.

Per the office of responsible for IRS forms and publications, they are tasked with the multi-lingual initiative focused on translating more products into Spanish and other languages. This will be an ongoing process aimed at assisting Limited English Proficient
(LEP) taxpayers.

Per the office responsible for online services, they continue to support IRS offices requesting high-traffic web pages, for which they are responsible, be translated into languages impacting the most taxpayers. However, due to program limitations (in addition to resource limitations), web pages cannot be translated into certain languages.

Per the office responsible for assisting callers from outside the United States, the staff answering calls to the international non-toll-free number can use the over-the-phone interpreter service (a contracted service that charges by the minute) to assist LEP taxpayers.

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2020 TAP Annual Report

The 2020 TAP Annual Report highlights our key recommendations to improve IRS customer service and summarizes our key accomplishments and activities, including the 237 recommendations submitted to the IRS in 2020.

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