IRS Plans to Spend Their Raise Wisely
We know that the title of this post may cause some severe speculation on your part. However, after reading several articles, releases, forums for bean counters, parts of the GAO report and many pull out quotes from the IRS Commissioner, we do believe that the IRS’s plans are worth commending. They did get their first budget increase in six years and the fact that they have decided to invest it into taxpayer services, identity theft and cybersecurity seem like great choices to us. So, we are sharing a few highlights of these areas of priority so you too can be hopeful about an easy and successful tax season for all of us!
Basically, they are hiring about a 1,000 additional customer services reps to answer the toll-free help line. Based on the GOA report, only about 38% of callers could actually talk to an IRS assistor last year. The hope is also that wait times will decrease just a bit. They have hovered around 30 minutes, even though the number of live callers has actually fallen since 2010 (for you number people wondering… they had about 51 million callers last year). Their goal is to get their stat down to about 20 minutes. Baby steps! They are also working to make their dedicated tax practitioner phone line more functional. We will keep you posted on that goal. Users will also notice that the Affordable Care Act section has been simplified and instructions clarified. They also have added a new savings option in conjunction with the Treasury Department.
IDENTITY THEFT AND CYBERSECURITY:
The IRS has been working closely with the entire tax industry, state revenue departments and security experts to provide taxpayers with stronger protections against theft during the filing season. They have added a new sign-in requirement for tax software users. They have also added a few new features to the e-filing process, working closely with the tax preparing community on the design.
After the Get Transcript application was breached last year, the IRS disabled the auto-download feature and will not add it back. However, you can order a transcript on the site and have it mailed to you. It is also worth noting that the South Carolina Department of Revenue is adding a new anti-fraud feature by not issuing any refunds (electronic or paper) until after March 1, 2016 regardless of when one files. This delay will give them time to verify items with the IRS. They may also require driver’s license information with all filings.
Overall, the taxpayer dollars that were allocated to the IRS should have a good return on investment. We’ll do the calculations and get back to you in a few months!