Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

Edward Karl, AICPASeveral practitioner organizations and firms have recommended changes they say are necessary to improve Internal Revenue Services. The nine groups say an improved governance and oversight structure of the IRS to reverse what they say is an unacceptable level of service to consumes and preparers.

The recommendations also propose establishing a new unit to centralize the agency's services to tax practitioners.

The groups are the Alliantgroup, American Institute of CPAs, Crowe Horwath, LLP, National Association of Enrolled Agents, National Association of Tax Professionals, National Conference of CPA Practitioners, National Society of Accountants, National Society of Tax Professionals and Padgett Business Services.

The AICPA was asked if the groups believe the cost of changes could be paid for by operational savings or whether additional appropriations was needed. Edward Karl, VP of taxation for the AICPA did not respond directly to that comment, but instead stated, "The groups and their members understand what is working and not working with tax administration from both taxpayer and practitioner perspectives. They believe their recommendations will assist the IRS to become a respected, service-oriented organization."

The recommendations are given in a framework—Ensuring a Modern-Functioning IRS for the 21st Century. The report cites figures from the National Taxpayer Advocate's 2016 Annual Report to Congress that report the percentage of taxpayer calls answered by the IRS between 2004 and 2016 has dropped from 87 percent to 53 percent as one an example of the decline in response.

"We understand what is working and not working with tax administration from both taxpayer and practitioner perspectives," the group wrote. "As one of the IRS's most significant stakeholders, we are both poised and committed to being part of the solution."

The group said its assessment of the condition of the IRS resemble circumstances that motivated creation of the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service more than 20 years ago. They recommend current efforts at modernizing the IRS and its technology infrastructure should built on the commissions work and its report issued in June 1997.

Among the governance and oversight recommendations are:

• Setting and maintaining consistent priorities and strategic direction;
• Re-establishing the annual joint hearing review by the Joint Committee on Taxation;
• Requiring the Joint Committee on Taxation to provide a bi-annual report;
• Requiring a Government Accountability Office review of the IRS Oversight Board;
• Enabling the hiring of qualified and experienced professionals at the IRS;
• Determining the appropriate level of service and compliance they want the IRS accountable to provide and dedicating appropriate resources for the agency to meet those goals; and
• Gauging performance with customer satisfaction surveys.

Among structure issues cited was the believe the IRS has dispersed employees in different departments so that they "are not coordinated in a way that enables practitioners to timely access critical information (such as their clients' account status or the availability of dispute resolution opportunities)."

The group also claims the IRS does no solicit, gather or evaluate practitioner feedback.

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 May 2017
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