AICPA Testimony to House Ways and Means Panel Outlines Recommendations to Improve IRS Taxpayer Service

December 13, 2017

Washington, D.C. (December 13, 2017) – The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) made recommendations about how to improve IRS taxpayer service in testimony submitted for the record of the December 13 House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing IRS Reform: The Taxpayer Experience.

The recommendations fall into two categories: IRS governance and oversight and IRS taxpayer service.  They are based on the AICPA’s Guiding Principles for Good Tax Policy: A Framework for Evaluating Tax Proposals.  A separate proposal recommends that IRS establish a practitioner services unit.  The AICPA stated in the testimony that these recommendations can “collectively improve the taxpayer experience while streamlining the tax administration system.” 

The governance and oversight recommendations include that the IRS establish a governance structure that sets and maintains consistent priorities and strategic direction, imposes accountability on senior management and develops appropriate measures of success.  Oversight by Congress and the IRS Oversight Board are also critical, the AICPA wrote.

The AICPA recommended that taxpayer service goals should be based on the following two guiding principles in order to instill trust in the tax administration system:

  • The IRS should only initiate contact with a taxpayer if the IRS is prepared to devote the resources necessary for a proper and timely resolution of the matter.
  • Customer satisfaction must be a goal in every interaction the IRS has with taxpayers, including enforcement actions.  Taxpayers expect quality service in all interactions with the IRS, including taxpayer assistance, filing tax returns, paying taxes, and examination and collection actions. 

A new IRS practitioner services unit “would allow the IRS to rationalize, enhance, and place under common management the many current, disparate practitioner-impacting programs, processes, and tools,” the AICPA stated.  “Moreover, by centralizing these programs, IRS employees would have a consolidated approach to timely resolving issues.  This coordination and improved access of information would prevent unnecessary delays and inefficiencies (such as, requiring practitioners to submit the same information multiple times to multiple IRS employees).  Finally, to ensure success of the practitioner services unit, it is essential for these services to approximate comparable private sector services and allow practitioners to resolve account issues for their clients in a timely and efficient manner.” 

The AICPA also emphasized that any effort to modernize the IRS and its technology infrastructure should build on the foundation established by the Report of the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS because the “similarities between the condition of the IRS today and the circumstances that motivated the creation of the Restructuring Commission are striking.”