Photo by jaingolfsland Last week, TaxMama® visited the IRS, at our Practitioner Stakeholder Liaison meeting. Here is a brief summary of our six-hour session.
Believe it or not, one of my favorite activities is spending time with the IRS. Over the years, the terrifying auditors and collections officers become real people I learn to trust and respect – and frankly, to like very much. So the first thing I am going to tell you is – if you’re a tax professional, talk to your professional organization about being that organization’s representative to these meetings.
And if you’re not a tax pro – the IRS’s Stakeholder Liaison’s mandate has been expanded to reach out to the public. They are looking for ways to educate and help taxpayers whose needs might be overlooked (like those who don’t speak English and are victimized by tax preparers who create fraudulent tax returns with big refunds for them).
Speaking of criminal tax preparers (because that’s exactly what those people are), both the IRS and the State of California (that’s where I am) are actively going after these folks – with fines, penalties, and potentially even jail time. This page will give you links to some of the prosecutions. More importantly, it will help you identify abusive preparers and how to report them. (Here is the resource for California.) (Shhhh….Incidentally, there is a way to get refunds for turning in tax criminals – use Form 211.)
And here’s good news (or bad, depending on your perspective). The IRS is hiring. All over the country. Here’s how to apply. The good news for people fearing audits is – the IRS staff has decreased dramatically. By about 50% in the key examination and enforcement groups. Aside from funding, the experienced people have been retiring. The bad part about this? New hires will be getting a brief training period, then being placed in customer-contact positions for their actual, live training. You’re going to be encountering IRS staff who will know less than you do about tax law and procedure. The only advice I can give you is – be kind. Don’t beat them over the head with what you know. Remember, if they are being rigid and inflexible with you about technical issues, it’s because they don’t have the experience to understand what leeway they have – and they have close oversight. So, again, be kind. But ask to speak to a manager – and make it a learning experience, not an adversarial one. You’re apt to come up against this person again in the future. So wouldn’t you like to make this person an ally, rather than an enemy? (People do remember and appreciate kindnesses.)
Did you file an amended return and feel like you’re waiting an eternity for it to get processed? Well, you are – it’s not your imagination.
IRS is way behind on 1040X’s – they are not a priority (did I hear 18 months, instead of 12 weeks, somewhere?)
- Priority #1 – to get refunds issued
- Priority #2 – finish processing returns being held up for various reasons.
- Priority #3 – 1040X’s
So, if you are nearly ready to file your tax return, but still need information – don’t file, then amend. Wait for the information and file before October 15th. Your tax return and/or refund will be processed faster.
Speaking of refunds. There’s a glitch in the refund release algorithm and legitimate refunds are being held back for investigation. The IRS is trying to fix that. But that’s another reason why your seemingly innocent refund-tax return isn’t being released yet.
There’s more. Lots more. But I’ll tell you about later. After we get the summary and transcripts from the meeting.
And now it’s time for me to get back to work on this week’s EA classes. Tomorrow, we’re working on sample tax returns all week. .
And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about taxes and business issues, and EA Education, free. Where? Where else? At http://iTaxMama.com/AskQuestion
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