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IRS Long-Term Plan: Will it work?

While completing your business or individual tax return this year, did you experience issues when contacting the IRS?

When Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson issued her mid-year report to Congress recently, she criticized the IRS for its poor customer service during the 2015 tax filing season. She blamed reduced funding for the department and the extra burden of implementing large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for this outcome.

Ms. Olson also addressed the development of a new concept of operations (CONOPS). This plan encompasses the IRS vision for the next five years.

While applauding the IRS for developing a plan, Ms. Olson identified its fundamental flaws:

  1. Despite 98% of all tax being paid voluntarily and timely by taxpayers, the IRS still regards itself as primarily an enforcement agency. To support her claim, Ms. Olson indicates the IRS Enforcement budget is more than double its Taxpayer Services budget.

By focusing on the small percentage that refuses to comply with tax laws, the IRS risks alienating the far greater majority of taxpayers. If you’ve called the IRS recently, you probably understand the frustration.

  1. Along with concentrating on enforcement, the plan suggests the IRS is actively trying to avoid contact with taxpayers, guiding them to its website and tax professionals to resolve issues. While both can prove very useful, sometimes no substitute exists for a taxpayer (or preparer)-to-agent encounter.

Automated information doesn’t resolve problems, and even CPAs are often limited in correcting issues without speaking to a human being. Sending letters frequently results in form letters sent in reply, without (apparently) anyone reading the explanation.

The Taxpayer Advocate recommends the IRS complete—and publicize—the draft of its CONOPS plan, then solicit taxpayers’ comments before finalizing it. See if the IRS adopts her suggestion and share your comments and opinions if so.

Meanwhile, if you need a professional who’s always up-to-date on the IRS and its operations, contact the experienced tax accountant team at Patrick & Robinson CPAs: or (904) 396-5400.

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