Do you have a tax problem? Do you find yourself hitting the concrete wall of bureaucracy? A new IRS Commissioner is on the Horizon and it’s time to correct the business management model for the Office of the Commissioner.
There was a time, before the prior administration, that a one could actually reach the Office of the IRS Commissioner without too much difficulty. Attempt to locate the telephone number for the Office of the IRS Commissioner and you will be referred to the IRS web site.
In the past, a FAX could be sent to the Office of the IRS Commissioner detailing a problem and an actual response would be received. There was previously, as I recall, an Executive Services Office. Also, the IRS had a Collection Due Process Coordinator and ACS support staff which you could contact. Many times, excellent assistance was obtained using these resources. For example, at one time, I had written the Commissioner’s Office with a very troubling collection case. Shortly thereafter, I received a call and was advised (along these words) – “…you wrote the Commissioner, stuff rolls down hill, and it is on my desk, what can I do for you?” The result was a very professional individual who worked with me on the case and helped resolve it!
Years ago, on collection cases and dealing with Field Revenue Officers, a Manager advised me (along these words) “ … when you write these faxes to the Commissioner, this results in our having conference calls lasting many hours between the east coast and the west coast…” . Typically those cases had involved abusive collection matters and resulting lengthy faxes by legal counsel with support and argument. But, this actually allowed log jams to be cleared and move forward. This was because someone at the “top”, with more “in the trenches” experience and knowledge, could see the larger picture and cut to the chase. But, today, the IRS publishes information about your “bill of rights”; however, as the Taxpayer Advocate reports, the actions by the IRS violate your rights.
In the arena, the Office of the Commissioner remains “missing in action”, as it has for years. The Mission of the IRS is to provide “top quality service”, but taxpayer’s and representatives are left to deal with an institution whose training budget has been reduced by nearly 75% since FYE 2009. Moreover, IRS employees receive training in the form of “virtual training”. The shift has been away from in-person, face-to-face training.
As stated by the Taxpayer Advocate, “The downstream consequences to the IRS and taxpayers, including rework, misleading or incomplete advice, improper
compliance actions, and distrust in the IRS serve to further degrade the relationship between the IRS and taxpayers and violate the taxpayer rights to be informed, to quality service, and to a fair and just tax system.”
A common concern, of taxpayers and practitioners alike, is that they are not receiving accurate advice in order to resolve their issues when they contact the IRS. One consequence to an “out of control” IRS Collection situation is that you may have to file for a Taxpayer Assistance Order (through the Taxpayer Advocate). However, this can serve to reward the IRS for its abusive conduct, by extending the statute of limitations for collection on the matter you are seeking to resolve. Thus, with one hand, you are trying to restrain the attack dog, while at the same time enticing him with a juicy, bloody bone in the other.
Do you ever call the IRS and feel you are speaking to a robot? Well, the IRS employee may merely be in fact reading from a script! To compound the situation, you will find that if you disagree with the scripted text that the IRS employee is robotically reading from, he or she may “resolve” the issue by hanging up on you!
On the other hand, you may have spent time on the phone with IRS/ACS and faxed in financial information. Then during your next follow up call you find out that the prior IRS employee didn’t enter the information into the computer at all, or entered erroneous information. Sometimes you find out that the IRS/ACS employee actually tossed in the trash the documentation provided. Another situation is that the subsequent IRS/ACS employee reverses the IRS position on a matter previously already worked out by the prior IRS/ACS employee. It would appear that resolution of calls and “taxpayer service” is not the actual objective.
Request a Manager call back? What a joke! You end up with a low level call back (if you even get one at all), with a big Rubber Stamp on it. If a voice message is left for you, no direct manager telephone number is provided – you are to call the 800 number and start over. At times, the purported manager leaves a message but doesn’t even mention the case name. The system is not designed to resolve matters!
With new leadership, it is recommended that the Office of the IRS Commissioner be made available and be proactive in working with the taxpayers the IRS is to serve. In the past, procedures were in place that allowed interface with tax practitioners. It facilitated case resolution. A new IRS Commissioner is going to be appointed. Now is the time to correct the business management model for the Office of the Commissioner.