The federal spending bill signed into law last month includes $290 million in additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with the stipulation some of the money be used to make measurable improvements in customer service.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), a longstanding advocate for sufficient IRS funding so that the agency can be responsive to taxpayers and tax advisers, hailed the funding increase as a positive step. “By raising awareness of the challenges, the profession played a role in encouraging solutions such as targeted funding. But let’s not stop there,” said Edward S. Karl, AICPA vice president for tax. “The arrival of a new tax season will bring new service challenges. And more needs to be done to transform the IRS into a more modern and respected agency.”
In her 2015 annual report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson expressed concern that the IRS may be on the verge of dramatically scaling back telephone and face-to-face service it has provided for decades to assist the nation’s 150 million individual taxpayers and 11 million business entities in complying with their tax obligations. The January 6 report stated that the IRS appears to presume taxpayer interactions with the IRS through online accounts will address a high percentage of taxpayer needs, enabling it to curtail existing taxpayer services without significantly impacting taxpayers.
The AICPA has pledged to continue its dialogue with Congress to find ways to help the IRS better meet taxpayer and practitioner needs. As part of the effort, AICPA staff and members will participate in several meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on February 9 and 10.
Concerned about the impact of IRS service reductions, the AICPA governing Council last year adopted a resolution urging policy makers to create a bi-partisan forum to “make recommendations that enable the IRS to achieve its stated mission and to transform it into a modern functioning, evolutionary, and respected federal agency for the 21 Century.”