Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Present State of the IRS…

Our firm recently hosted a tax event featuring a newly retired IRS Taxpayer Advocate who had been instrumental in breaking a log-jammed case for us. She was supposed to talk about the Taxpayer Advocate Service’s mission.

The plan was to inform our guests - fellow financial professionals, attorneys and some of our clients – of the unique advocacy duty of the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (“TAS”). Their service is free to help taxpayers or their representatives when IRS is not processing a case correctly, not at all, or even exerting personal bias on a case, as had happened with one of ours. Begun in 2000, TAS is staffed by former IRS personnel who put their experience and skill to work on behalf of the taxpayer…

When asked her opinion of the safety of E-Filing by one of our guests, the retired IRS Advocate nearly burst into a passionate and (obviously) long-frustrated expression of what she felt were some of the largest problems facing IRS today:
  • The outrageous ease and growth of identity theft, due to IRS’s insistence that taxpayers e-file – and, that TAS staff is now being forced to deal with criminals asking them to obtain fraudulent refunds – taking away time for them to do their real job - dealing with genuine taxpayer problems
  • The quitting or retirement by seasoned IRS personnel grown weary of either the complexity of the Code, and/or a too-heavy workload due to the continued staff reduction within IRS
  • A dramatic stall or slowdown of claims and amended returns processing
  • An apparent growing anti-taxpayer bias, reminiscent to those of us in practice in the1980’s.
And now we have news of a few employees in the tax-exempt qualifying unit “targeting” certain politically conservative 501(c)(4) applications. This is a rogue unit move, and at best, an outrageous abuse of power.

We represent clients in matters of error correction and amendment of all sorts of tax returns; problem resolution; penalty abatement, etc in addition to customized tax strategy. We are able to work through IRS staff behavioral issues because we know how. The degree of difficulty in tax resolution problems has unquestionably increased for the reasons cited above. I did not expect, nor was it the plan for our (retired) IRS Taxpayer Advocate speaker to make this the focal point of her discussion. To have her do so with such conviction was a dismaying surprise.