If you have a complicated tax question or receive notice that something is wrong with your tax return, you might soon may have a hard time finding a human at the IRS who can help.
This is the biggest concern flagged Wednesday by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson in her annual report to Congress. The job of the national taxpayer advocate is to represent the interests of taxpayers.
The IRS has invested a lot of money to create a plan outlining how the agency will operate in five years. Although the plan hasn’t been made public, and Olson is urging the agency to do so and to solicit public comments.
There are a lot of great goals set out in the plan, Olson noted. One of them is the creation of online taxpayer accounts to make it easier for taxpayers to get information and interact with the IRS. But this would then allow the IRS to eliminate many of the customer service positions, such as phone support that many people use. The computer program is a great but there’s a potentially huge downside, she warns.
“Millions of taxpayers do not have Internet access, millions of taxpayers with Internet access do not feel comfortable trying to resolve important financial matters over the Internet, and many taxpayer problems are not ‘cookie cutter,'” the report noted.
Olson also worries that the reduction in personal service combined with IRS plans to encourage taxpayers to take their questions to paid tax preparers will create a “pay to play” system. Translation: “Only taxpayers who can afford to pay for tax advice will receive personal service, while others will be left struggling for themselves.”
This cold easily create not only more confusion but more people becoming frustrated and simply throwing their hands up and just avoiding filing taxes.