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IRS Can Improve Service to Taxpayers. Here’s How

July 28, 2015  |   Tax Advice   |   Tags: , ,  

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) routinely provide recommendations to the IRS to improve their service and systems. Due to massive budget cuts, the IRS has been lacking in providing effective service to taxpayers.

taxpayer advocate service

During the 2015 filing season, the average wait time when calling the IRS was 28 minutes. In 2010, it was 11 minutes.

The real danger the IRS is facing due to a shortage of funds is the impact on system security. Identity thieves, many of them located overseas, are using sophisticated technology to hack online systems.

In order to cope with such attacks, the IRS must keep the security of their system up-to-date. Recently, the IRS disclosed the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers in a security breach.

TAS, in an open letter to the IRS, suggested some changes. Fox Business highlights five of them:

“1. Create one point of contact for identity theft

“Under the current structure, victims of identity theft are often bounced between several automated systems and departments before any issues are resolved. Olson communicates the need to consolidate the departments that handle identity theft under one roof in order to expedite the resolution process for the taxpayer.

“2. Consider how technology may impact security

“As the IRS moves to more automated features and expands its online presence, Olson stresses the importance of cyber security. The report makes note of the sensitive information that is entrusted to the IRS and how a breach could be catastrophic for American citizens.

“3. Perfect the administration of ObamaCare

“Overall, the Taxpayer Advocate Service praised the speedy application of the Affordable Care Act’s tax provisions, but there are areas that need improvement. For instance, the Individual Shared Responsibility Payment was erroneously applied this year, which forced 300,000 taxpayers to pay an average of $110 unnecessarily.

“4. Focus on compliant taxpayers

“The IRS is currently structured to punish those who evade tax payments, rather than aid the 98% of citizens who willingly comply with tax requirements. Olson suggests the service reanalyze its purpose and focus its resources on encouraging voluntary taxpayers, rather than disciplining the tax evading minority.

“5. Rework the vision of automated taxpayer service

“In an effort to reduce cost, the IRS is in the midst of a five-year plan to replace person-to-person contact with online services. Olson’s report argues that personal contact is needed to resolve complex tax issues and simplify regulations to uninformed citizens. Ironically, limiting personal contact could lead to more mishandled tax dilemmas and increased cost.”