The 2017 tax filing season should begin with no significant delays and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will strive to maintain the more than 80 percent level of service it provided during the 2016 filing season on the practitioner priority line “to the extent that we can with the resources provided,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the more than 500 attendees at the American Institute of CPAs’ National Tax Conference on November 15 in Washington, D.C.
The AICPA has told the IRS repeatedly about the critical importance of the tax preparer hotline to tax practitioners throughout the year. The AICPA also is continuing to press for improved levels of service to taxpayers and practitioners in other areas.
Koskinen pledged that the IRS will continue its war against taxpayer fraud and called on tax practitioners to help as the IRS expands its pilot W-2 verification code program on a voluntary basis to about 50 million forms. “One of the things we’re asking all of the preparers is, when you see a W-2 with that additional set of digits on it, there’s a place on the form where that goes. If you could put that in, it allows us to validate those taxpayers and to stop suspicious returns and move the legitimate returns more quickly through the system than in the past,” Koskinen said.
IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson outlined concerns about the IRS’s Future State initiative, which she said could result in a more remote agency that may not address taxpayer requirements. Olson has hosted a series of public forums around the country during the past year to gather information from taxpayers about what they need and want from the IRS.
Koskinen said the IRS Future State is an “evolutionary” plan. Referring to online personal accounts that taxpayers will soon be able to set up under the IRS program, Koskinen stated, “We are sensitive to the issues that practitioners have raised and the feedback from you continues to be valuable. We need to make sure practitioners have access to the data as taxpayers do. We recognize that it’s critical for you to have the ability to get into this system in the same way, in the same manner as your clients.”
Other IRS speakers at the conference included William J. Wilkins, chief counsel for the IRS and assistant general counsel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Douglas O’Donnell, commissioner of the Large Business and International Division, and Debra Holland, commissioner of the Wage and Investment Division. Also speaking were Caroline Ciraolo, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, and Thomas A. Barthold, chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation.