Commissioner John Koskinen and other top officials at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spoke November 4 at the American Institute of CPAs’ (AICPA) National Tax Conference, warning about the challenges tax practitioners, taxpayers and the IRS face during the upcoming tax filing season.
“We believe it may be one of the most complicated filing seasons we’ve ever had, for a number of reasons,” Koskinen told the more than 600 attendees.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen
photo: Sam Kittner/ kittner.com
Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), reduced funding that has affected customer service and the uncertain fate of expired tax provisions, commonly known as “the extenders” that Congress typically renews, all point to a difficult tax filing season in 2015, he said.
“Continuing uncertainty about the extender legislation imposes stress, not only on the IRS, but on the entire tax community,” Koskinen said. “I’m extremely grateful for the support we have received from the AICPA on this issue. Specifically, I’m referring to the letter sent to the Congressional tax committees recently, in which the AICPA detailed its concerns about the consequences of late tax legislation, for the tax system and for our economy.” (The AICPA’s September 15 letter to Congress urging lawmakers to act on the extenders can be read here.)
Koskinen warned that “if the uncertainty over extenders continues into December, the IRS could be forced to postpone the opening of the 2015 filing season.”
Funding reductions “will pose serious challenges to our customer service, enforcement efforts and information technology projects,” he said. Congress is now considering what the IRS budget should be for Fiscal Year 2015. Koskinen said telephone service could drop from the 2014 service level of 71 percent to 53 percent in 2015, unless the IRS is provided the funds to hire staff to handle the volume of calls.
IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson echoed Koskinen’s warnings about the difficult tax filing season ahead. “The filing season is probably, in my way of thinking, going to be the worst filing season that I have seen since I've been the national taxpayer advocate,” she said. Olson began her tenure as the taxpayer advocate in January 2001.
Other IRS speakers at the conference included Wage and Investment Division Commissioner Debra Holland, Small Business/Self-Employed Division Commissioner Karen Schiller and Large Business and International Division Acting Deputy Commissioner for Domestic Sergio Arellano. Attending from Capitol Hill on November 3 to speak about the legislative outlook were Senate Finance Committee staff members J. Todd Metcalf, chief tax counsel, and Mark Prater, deputy staff director and chief tax counsel for the minority.