Juneau resident named to IRS panel

Posted: Monday, October 21, 2002

Bruce Twomley, chairman of the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, has been chosen as one of Alaska's two representatives to the new Taxpayer Advocacy Panel of the Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS said it established the new panel, with representatives from each state, as a way to ensure citizens have a say in the way the agency serves taxpayers. The TAP takes the place of the Citizen Advocacy Panel, which the Treasury Department established in four regional locations with members from only 10 states.

"The whole idea is to help ensure that taxpayers are treated fairly," Twomley said. "It's a way to identify problems and bring them back to the IRS. Because the panel incorporates the whole nation, we will easily see whether a problem is local, regional or national."

As chairman of the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, Twomley has worked closely with the IRS on taxing practices for Alaska fishermen. He testified before the Pacific Northwest Citizen Advocacy Panel several times on this issue, and said he was asked to apply for a position on the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel by the chairman of the Pacific Northwest CAP. He and the other Alaska representative, Sherry Whah of Anchorage, will serve two-year terms on the panel.

Whah is an income tax specialist and president of TaxHelp, a tax accounting business, and also worked in the banking industry. Whah has volunteered as an instructor for tax training programs.

"The new panel members have an important job to make sure that the IRS provides world-class service to tax payers," said Paul O'Neill, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, in a prepared statement.

As a TAP member, Twomley will devote about 300 hours per year to the panel, most of which will be in meetings held by phone or online. He will attend at least one meeting a year in the Washington, D.C., area.

"If I have some reservations about the (TAP) program, they would concern the structure," Twomley said. "It's so large and so expansive and it doesn't have much of a budget, so there are limited opportunities to meet and have public hearings face to face."

Twomley worked in Anchorage for 10 years as a lawyer with the Alaska Legal Services Corp. before he was appointed to his current position with the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission in 1982. He lives in Juneau with his wife, Sarah Minton, and their two sons.

Alaskans who want to contact Twomley or Whah can call (888) 912-1227, or visit the Internet site, www.improveirs.org.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.

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