A letter to the IRS and Treasury Department said the IRS will not achieve its goals “wthout a dedicated “executive level Practitioner Services Division that can participate in the design of key practitioner-impacting policies and programs.”
The letter stated the division should engage with the tax professional community; ensure practitioner feedback is acted upon through a liaison with all major operating divisions; and maintain robust practitioner hotlines; and provide online tax professional accounts.
Besides the AICPA, those entities signing the letter were Alliantgroup, H&R Block, Latino Tax Professionals Association, National Association of Enrolled Agents, National Association of Tax Professionals, National Conference of CPA Practitioners, National Society of Tax Professionals, Padgett Business Services and Prosperity Now
The organizations also called for a comprehensive customer strategy that would include the following steps to provide timely access to information: *A secure communications platform (for two-way communication with tax professionals); *A system (similar to “Where’s my Refund”) for notices, ITIN applications, time-stamped responses, confirmations of receipt and other correspondence; *An efficient process for taxpayers to authorize third parties; *An online professional account with single sign-on for access to all of their clients’ information.
In addition, there was a recommendation for creating resources to serve tax professionals and hard-to-serve taxpayers with differing needs instead of requiring them to use a platform designed for general taxpayers.
The organizations also want the IRS to implement a comprehensive training strategy and called for prioritizing employee training on (1) general customer service; (2) procedural issues; and (3) real- life business practices and taxpayer limitations.
Training, the letter said, should involve a standardized approach “perhaps through an IRS University”; a modernized approach to training, including implementing current training best practices and offering interactive options; leveraging the experience of tax professionals; and (4) using subject matter experts with strong instructional skills (internal and external) to train employees.
Since not all employees cannot be equally knowledgeable about tax laws and procedures, pods of teams should be created that enable those who can provide general levels of assistance to transfer more complex issues to employees with specialized training.
Besides creating the practitioner division, the agency should be redesigned to adopt a customer-focused culture and develop metrics to measure the quality of services delivered instead of concentrating on the number of customer touches.
The group also wants the implementation of technology on a platform model “in which the technological infrastructure allows for integration and coordination of information throughout the organization.” That includes in-house resources and outsourcing some services.