IRS Service Levels - HELP!

Unfortunately the IRS service levels continue to cause challenges.  Best advice is to be patient.  Really patient.  Please see the blog below from the AICPA (American Institute of CPA's) discussing IRS service levels. 

IRS Service Levels: Don’t Give Me Excuses!

Posted by Edward Karl, CPA on Jan 29, 2016

Abysmal service levels; I hear you, I really do. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in practice but those busy season scars are still with me. I half joke but the memories don’t go away completely.

So, another busy season and the prospects for easily – wait, reasonably – representing your clients with the IRS appear to be no better than they were last year, when I blogged several times about service issues. In May, for example, you may have read about the AICPA governing Council resolution directing the Institute to intercede on a long-term solution to the service crisis. We started those conversations but, frankly, the environment in Washington got worse. Hard to believe, but it did. In October, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) joined 18 members of the committee in introducing an impeachment resolution against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The resolution is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

That “honest disagreement” between Congress and the IRS regarding appropriate funding levels and effective management of the appropriated funds has been a huge barrier. You probably don’t care; you just want to properly represent your clients. You’re probably more interested in signs of progress. Right now, I can offer two:

Sign 1: In its Annual Report to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate outlined a summary of at least 20 of the most serious problems encountered by taxpayers each year. For 2015, the NTA identified 24 such problems. Guess what tops the list? Yup – taxpayer service. Shining the light on the problem, as the AICPA and National Taxpayer Advocate continue to do, is important to progressing to a solution.

Sign 2: In December, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), which increases the IRS budget by 3% over fiscal year 2015. The $290 million increase is targeted specifically for taxpayer services and is focused on improving fraud detection and prevention, cybersecurity and the response rate to taxpayer inquiries. These are obviously critically important areas for taxpayers and practitioners; the additional funding is an important step after several years of cuts.

Washington is set to be hit with an historic blizzard as I pen these words, yet I can’t help feeling that we may be facing the beginnings of a thaw in the outlook toward the IRS service situation. To leverage the changing environment, the AICPA has organized a “fly-in” in February to provide lawmakers and IRS officials with voices from the trenches to underscore the impact of this currently unacceptable level of service. (The term fly-in refers to CPAs who are flying into Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress and the IRS Commissioner.) We also see this fly-in as a way to accelerate the move toward providing the country with an IRS capable of world-class service and citizen satisfaction. The AICPA is immensely grateful to these CPAs for taking the time to help all of us during an obviously inconvenient time for them. But it is the time circumstances dictate and it is an important next step. This problem didn’t evolve overnight. Solving it will take time but we are committed to seizing every opportunity we can on your behalf and on behalf of taxpayers. (Our advocacy work doesn’t end here – check out our latest Washington Tax Brief for an update on all the ways we represent you.)

We also have a busy season webpage available with helpful resources that might take the edge off. When next season starts, my personal goal is to multiply the signs of progress that translate into tangible results to make your work easier. I think we all look forward to the day I no longer need to write about it. 

And as Mahatma Gandhi said “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” We are resolute in our determination.

Edward Karl, Vice President-Taxation, American Institute of CPAs. 

IRS Service Levels to Continue Decline!

Due to heavy workload (like the ACA and late tax changes/extensions by Congress) and a significantly reduced budget the IRS will be cutting back on service levels again.  See the National Taxpayer Advocate annual report below.

National Tax Advocate's report criticizes IRS's planned reduction in taxpayers' service.

In her 2015 annual report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina Olson expresses concern that IRS may be on the verge of dramatically scaling back telephone and face-to-face service that it has historically provided to assist the nation's 150 million individual taxpayers and 11 million business entities comply with their tax obligations. In particular, she calls for IRS to release its “Future State” plan documents, provide additional detail about its anticipated impact on taxpayer service operations, and solicit public comments, and recommends that Congress conduct oversight hearings on IRS's plan. IR 2016-1

More IRS Problems!

Looks like we are going to have another challenging tax season.  Please plan ahead and be ready to act quickly to stay in compliance.  In this situation things can change unexpectedly. 

IRS Commissioner Sees Budget Cuts Hurting Practitioners, Warns of Delayed Tax Season

by MICHAEL COHN

Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen told a group of tax practitioners that budget cuts at the agency are harming not only taxpayers, but tax practitioners as well, and warned that unless Congress acts on tax extenders legislation, tax season might need to be delayed next year. At the same conference, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson complained of declining taxpayer service levels by the IRS and obstructions to the work of her office on behalf of taxpayers. READ MORE »