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Report recommends IRS make a culture change in interactions

Many people view interactions with the Internal Revenue Service negatively and as something to dread. There are various reasons for this. One is that such interactions sometimes happen in very stressful and high-stakes situations, such as situations in which a taxpayer is accused of having done something wrong on their taxes or told they owe more in the way of taxes than they thought they did. Another is that there is a certain degree of intimidation a person can feel when dealing with a major federal agency that can take enforcement actions that could have major impacts on a person’s life.

The amount of dread a person can feel in relation to dealings with the IRS is one of the things that can make dealing with tax problems a challenging experience. Skilled tax attorneys understand how intimidated taxpayers can feel in interactions with the IRS when it comes to tax debt or other tax problems, and can help them with navigating such interactions and protecting their rights during the course of them.

A recent report suggested that the IRS change its culture regarding its interactions with the public. The report was by the Taxpayer Advocate Service. This is an independent taxpayer advocacy group within the IRS.

The report argued that the IRS is too enforcement-oriented in its interactions with taxpayers, at the expense of being service-oriented. According to the report, customer service shortcomings, such as over-reliance on automated systems and constrained communications, can have negative tax compliance effects. It argued that the IRS not focusing enough on customer service could leave taxpayers feeling alienated. It noted that this, in turn, could make taxpayers less willing to comply with tax laws.

So, one of the suggestions the report made to the IRS was to shift its culture when it comes to taxpayer interactions away from being as confrontational as it is now and towards being kinder and more focused on service.

One wonders how the IRS will respond to this suggestion. If the IRS did make such a culture change, what impacts do you think it would have on the taxpayer experience and how the public views interactions with the IRS?

Source: Money, “IRS Scolded: Be Nicer and More People Will Pay Their Taxes,” Brad Tuttle, Jan. 11, 2017

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