Helping taxpayers and tax practitioners is one of the most important responsibilities of the IRS. However, long wait times on the phone and slow responses are unfortunately still a hallmark of interactions with the IRS, making it extremely difficult for CPAs to provide timely service to their clients and efficiently run their practices.
The AICPA has recently met with Congressional offices and the IRS on this issue and is optimistic that the most recent budget appropriation, which allocates an increase in funding ($290 million) for taxpayer services, will make a measureable difference. However, we believe additional action is required to transform the IRS into a more modern and respected agency.
In order for taxpayers (and their tax practitioners) to receive the assistance they need on tax issues, it is essential for the IRS to respond to them in a timely manner. At a minimum, for example, the IRS should improve:
(1) Wait times for incoming telephone calls, and
(2) The time required for them to respond (in a substantive manner) to taxpayers’ written correspondence on tax notices. The level of service over the last year is simply unacceptable.
We understand that the IRS has new initiatives and vital responsibilities (such as addressing identity theft), but taxpayer service must remain a priority in a voluntary compliance system - which relies on individuals and businesses to properly report their income.
Tax Advocacy Efforts
The AICPA believes the current situation of unacceptably low levels of taxpayer assistance warrants a broad discussion - that includes Congress and stakeholders - of what the agency should look like in the 21st Century.
- Senators Ask Treasury Secretary to Review IRS's Taxpayer Services, September 14, 2015.
- Lawmakers Ask Treasury Secretary for Plan to Improve Taxpayer Service, July 8, 2015.
- National Taxpayer Advocate released the 2015 Annual Report to Congress expressing their concerns.
- The Government Accountability Office released its report on the 2015 Tax Filing Season which found that Treasury and IRS do not have plans to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy to define appropriate service levels as previously recommended.