With all the challenges to maintain high voluntary compliance levels by making tax administration as simple and painless as possible and having the IRS emphasize taxpayer service and taxpayer rights in its approach to tax administration, what is to be done?
Well, the IRS must change its focus to taxpayer service, outreach, and education first. It must revise its mission statement back to an emphasis on taxpayer service and add a focus on taxpayer rights. It must reinstate a geographic presence for its audit, collection, and appeals functions as well as expand outreach and education. It must pick up the phone and talk with taxpayers, and listen to them when they speak. To enable the IRS to do these things, Congress must provide sufficient funding. And Congress should conduct sufficient oversight over the IRS to ensure that it actually does them. (As discussed in prior reports, more IRS funding generally translates into more revenue collection, so additional funding almost surely will more than pay for itself.)
I welcome the beginning of discussions on IRS reform so long as it is approached in a bipartisan, non-punitive manner, there will be no shortage of good ideas. We simply can’t go on like we have been and think we are delivering to the U.S. taxpayer a 21st century tax administration. U.S. taxpayers deserve so much more.