Tax | Taxation

‘Practitioner Services Division’ at IRS could become reality

To anyone who's ever found themselves lost on hold in the IRS's inescapable seven layers of tax-season phone hell, here are some words of encouragement:

The IRS is listening.

No, really — stop laughing. In this case, it's true.

Bloomberg reports that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is considering the creation of a "Practitioner Services Division" of the agency that will be devoted to serving the needs of the tax practitioner community.

Can I get a "Hallelujah?"

As Bloomberg reports:

“'I’m aware of it. I’m sensitive to it. And I understand the need for it,” said Rettig, a former longtime tax practitioner himself. He said he has received proposals from outside of the Internal Revenue Service for how such a division might work."

Among those proposals is one from the American Institute of CPAs, which sent a letter to lawmakers in April 2018 outlining the need for a "Practitioner Services Division" of the IRS.

As the AICPA imagines it, the Practitioner Services Division would:

  • Engage with the Tax Professional Community: Practitioners need the ability to communicate process/system problems and failures that materially impede practitioner service to taxpayers. Practitioner feedback will help ensure that the IRS meets the needs of taxpayers and tax professionals, as well as the government.
  • Liaise with all major IRS operating divisions: A liaison with all major IRS operating divisions will ensure the consideration of regular input from the practitioners in the development of IRS enforcement and customer service strategies.
  • Offer robust practitioner hotlines: Telephone service assistors on practitioner hotlines should have the training and authority to resolve more complex taxpayer issues.
  • Create an online tax professional account: A secure tax professional account should provide practitioners access to their clients’ information (both individual and business accounts) and the ability to correspond with the IRS in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Establish a learning consortium: IRS employees with the PS division need a higher level of training that enables them to maintain a level of technical competence that is equivalent to their counterparts in the private sector.

Of course, what the final form of such a division would look like is anyone's guess. Such is the state of American legislation and politics today.

That's where you come in. If you have a connection to or relationship with your U.S. senators or representatives, passing along to them the importance of this proposed new arena at the IRS can only help our cause. As the AICPA says, "This is a critical time to reinforce the message to legislators, and to bolster the IRS’s consideration of the new division." If you need some talking points or other assistance, feel free to reach out to the MACPA for help.

And stayed tuned for developments. We'll keep you updated as things progress.


Bill Sheridan