(Washington, DC) Following a briefing on the 2008 filing season, the IRS Oversight Board praised the IRS for delivering a smooth filing season despite a number of challenges that had to be overcome, such as the passage of Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) relief in December 2007 and the implementation of the economic stimulus program in February 2008. The briefings took place at the Board’s scheduled two-day April meeting in Washington, DC.
IRS Board Chairman Paul Cherecwich observed: “The IRS deserves a lot of credit. The twin challenges of implementing late AMT changes plus the economic stimulus plan required extensive reprogramming of the IRS’ computer software. Some thought the filing season could be jeopardized, or at the very least delayed for weeks. However, the IRS rose to the occasion and overcame these hurdles. Its across-the-board performance and its execution of the economic stimulus payments are to be commended.”
The Board was pleased to see that the IRS’ modernized information technology systems played a role in the successful filing season. The latest release of the Customer Account Data Engine (CADE) – the modernized database that will replace the Agency’s antiquated tape-based master files, was successfully deployed in January 2008. Through April 11th, CADE processed nearly 25 million individual tax returns and $37 billion in refunds.
Board Chairman Cherecwich said, “The progress that the IRS has achieved with CADE is important for two reasons. The first is what taxpayers are receiving. Most taxpayers could care less about the technical nuts and bolts of returns processing. What they do care about is speed, reliability and accuracy. And CADE is delivering – right into their bank accounts and wallets. As the Treasury Department announced last week, the first 800,000 economic stimulus payments will go out a full four days sooner because CADE can update records on a daily basis. Now, that is real program value taxpayers can appreciate.”
The IRS Oversight Board also believes that CADE’s early success provides ample reason for accelerating it and other major information technology programs. “Although continued oversight is necessary, the CADE delivery demonstrates the IRS’ ability to manage the BSM program and deliver timely results,” said the Board Chairman. “It’s now time to let them operate on all cylinders and accelerate the program.”
The Oversight Board also expressed approval of the continued growth in e-filed returns and praised the IRS’ heightened taxpayer outreach efforts. These include EITC Awareness Day in January and the so-called “Super Saturday” on March 29th when the IRS opened more than 300 offices to prepare returns for low-income workers, retirees and disabled veterans so they could receive their economic stimulus payments. The Board believes that such targeted efforts are critical to providing both quality service to all taxpayers and increasing overall compliance.
The Board also welcomed its newest member – IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman who was sworn into office on March 24, 2008. Under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the Commissioner is a member of the Board. Board Chairman Cherecwich said, “I speak for the entire Board when I say how excited we are to have Doug at the helm of the IRS. He inherits a first-class organization and leadership team and with his background and business acumen, we’re expecting him to take the IRS’ performance from good to great.”
Other topics covered by the Board included discussion of the IRS FY2010 budget, an overview of the Agency-wide Shared Services, and an update on the IRS’ next five-year strategic plan, which is being developed.
The Board will next meet on July 30, 2008 in Washington, DC.