The IRS is about to spend $1.2 billion on yet another reorganization of an already muscle-bound, top heavy agency, with the launch of its Taxpayer Experience Office. Don’t laugh. Look it up. Get ready for a new program which promises to “rethink the way” the IRS operates.
A 500+ page report describing the key points is laced with the latest “Management Consultant” jargon, essentially double-speak which could have come from the popular HBO series, “Mad Men.” For those who live “outside the beltway,” most of the plan will be nothing more than different labels on empty bottles.
While it is hard not to snicker about the name, the Report, which is short on details, has some curious if not alarming language for both IRS worker bees, and taxpayers in the real tax world where people are currently slugging it out with the IRS in audits and collection.
A scary reference to “centralizing exam functions” hopes to provide “a more holistic picture” leading to “increased knowledge of relationships” between taxpayers and the IRS.
Washington is generally fond of “centralizing functions” but to practitioners it sounds like we can look forward to an increased use of IRS “technical advisors.”
In another doozy, the new “Experience” boasts an “Issue De-Escalation Process,” a new “informal review” in lieu of (or before?) following usual procedures. This will happen once the IRS “identif[ies] its employees that have the capability and authority to resolve any taxpayer issue before going to Appeals or Taxpayer Advocate Service.” Why doesn’t IRS management already know who those people are?
The Issue De-Escalation Process: How would the “informal review” process work? Currently there is a simple (not broken) course to follow through protest letters and a collegial appeals process followed by a ticket to the Tax Court.
Issues abound here but it is hard to imagine how the imposition of a parallel, duplicative, more time-consuming process will “improve trust and confidence in the IRS”?
The “Experience” is likely to be a tough sell for the IRS to an already distrustful nation. Many will be frightened by a tax collector spouting happy talk about enhancing the existential “holistic” relationships with those who would prefer to have as little government contact as possible.
 IRS Report to Congress, January, 2021.