Pushing for Tax Reform – IRS Taxpayer Assistance

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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently participated in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Small Business hearings on tax reform with the goal of ensuring that main street isn’t left behind. One area of focus in this regard has to do with IRS Taxpayer Assistance. While it is recognized that the IRS budget is oftentimes the subject of debate, the need for funding to provide quality and timely assistance to taxpayers and tax practitioners is critical and needs to be given priority.

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 current levels of service for these two areas are simply unacceptable and there is concern with the IRS spending a significantly lower percentage of its limited budget on taxpayer services – such as the Individual Income Tax Line, Refund Hotline, Practitioner Priority Hotline, etc.

It is critical for small businesses (and their tax practitioners) to receive the assistance they need on tax issues. It is understood that the IRS has new initiatives and vital responsibilities (such as ever increasing identity theft). But, taxpayer service must remain a priority in a voluntary compliance system, such as the U.S. income tax system, which relies on individuals and businesses to properly report their income. The current situation of unacceptably low levels of taxpayer assistance warrants a Congressional discussion and action.

By Dale F. Jensen, CPA