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MSP #1: TAXPAYER SERVICE

The IRS Has Developed a Comprehensive “Future State” Plan That Aims to Transform the Way It Interacts with Taxpayers, But Its Plan May Leave Critical Taxpayer Needs and Preferences Unmet

TAS Recommendations and IRS Responses

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1.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #1-1

Immediately publish CONOPS, publicize them widely, and seek comments and suggestions from the public.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: NTA Recommendation Not Adopted as Written, but IRS Actions Taken to Address Issues Raised by NTA.  The IRS has taken – and continues to take – steps in this area to highlight the evolving Future State plan and gain feedback.

We agree with the essence of the NTA’s recommendation to get insights from the taxpaying public about how we envision interacting with taxpayers in the future. Our Future State efforts to date have been informed by insights from taxpayers and tax professionals, as well as research into taxpayer behaviors and preferences. We will continue to get feedback from many sources, especially taxpayers, to help us improve the taxpayer’s experience in a rapidly evolving world

The IRS has been actively discussing and highlighting the evolving Future State for quite some time. The IRS Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners have been describing aspects of the Future State in various forums, both internally and externally, for well over a year. This includes ongoing dialogue about the shape and course of Future State developments with numerous stakeholders.

As a further illustration of the IRS’ commitment to getting feedback on the Future State, the IRS has been working to support and publicize the Taxpayer Advocate’s Public Forums on the Future State. Through early May, the IRS promoted these Forums through national news releases, social media and IRS.gov. IRS is committed to continuing to get and incorporate taxpayers’ perspectives in the Future State, including through the IRS Nationwide Tax Forums in the summer of 2016, efforts that also involve the Taxpayer Advocate’s Office.

IRS continues to engage numerous advisory groups established for the express purpose of providing taxpayer insights. These groups provide meaningful insights about how the Future State may impact taxpayers and those who serve them. The media has likewise been active in informing the public about the Future State. The Commissioner’s National Press Club speech on the Future State earlier this year garnered considerable press coverage, sparking Congressional and public interest.

IRS efforts to share information also include publishing a wide range of Future State material on IRS.gov, and highlighting these documents extensively in numerous media interviews and public appearances. The Commissioner and others have periodically briefed Congressional staffs and members as well as NTEU officials on the Future State development. Likewise, IRS has placed Future State information on its internal Intranet site to inform employees about developments.

Even before the Advocate’s Annual Report, the Commissioner and others have acknowledged that not all taxpayers are willing or able to interact digitally and underscored IRS’s commitment to serve them through the channel they choose. The vision is still under development to ascertain how interactions can produce a more positive taxpayer and employee experience.

We are also updating and tailoring our various taxpayer surveys and conjoint analyses to get taxpayer perspectives about various aspects of the envisioned Future State. We will continue to use a variety of venues  to listen, understand and accommodate the taxpaying public’s views in our quest to improve the taxpayer experience.

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A

TAS RESPONSE: The National Taxpayer Advocate acknowledges the IRS has taken significant steps since the publication of our report to publicize details of the Future State plan. To date, however, it is not clear the IRS has seriously sought public comments or adjusted its plan to take public comments into account. We urge the IRS both to continue a public dialogue and to give more weight to taxpayer and practitioner needs and preferences as it refines and implements its long-term plans.

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Adopted

OPEN or CLOSED: Closed

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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2.

TAS RECOMMENDATION #1-2

The National Taxpayer Advocate recommends that Congress hold hearings during the next few months on the future state of IRS operations. These hearings:

  • Will help foster better communication between the IRS and Congress on the front-end, potentially reducing the risk of continuing conflict in the future;
  • Should seek testimony from groups representing the interests of individual taxpayers (including elderly, low income, disabled, and limited English proficiency taxpayers), sole proprietors, other small businesses, and Circular 230 practitioners and unenrolled tax return preparers; and
  • Should also include witnesses who can address the additional compliance burden the CONOPS will impose on various categories of taxpayers as well as the likely impact of the CONOPS on the overall rate of voluntary tax compliance.

IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: ​N/A

CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A

TAS RESPONSE: N/A

ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Congressional

OPEN or CLOSED: Congressional

DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A

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