(December 18, 2013) The IRS Oversight Board is pleased that the IRS is moving forward on developing a new strategic plan that will set long-term goals for the nation's tax administrative system. Its current plan expires this year. The IRS presented its draft for discussion at the Board's December 11th meeting.
"While the draft plan is still a work in progress, it will serve as an important roadmap for the IRS. The strategic plan sets the agency's path over a longer period of time and provides stability and continuity, which is in the best interest of taxpayers," said Board Chair Paul Cherecwich, Jr.
The Board is also working closely with the IRS to set new, specific long-term measures in key areas, including service and enforcement, electronic filing, information technology modernization, and employee engagement. (To see previous measures, go to http://www.treasury.gov/irsob/measures/).
The Board is watching the IRS Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget closely in the wake of the passage of a two-year budget agreement. Last month, the Board reached out to Senator Patty Murray and Representative Paul Ryan, the co-chairs of the Joint Budget Conference Committee, noting that for the past three years, funding levels for the IRS have fallen and are now far below the President's and the Board's FY2014 recommendations.
"The Board's role is to determine how much funding the IRS requires to provide the services taxpayers need to navigate a complex tax code, and to enforce the tax law. Congress made an important step forward in the budget process," said Board Chair Cherecwich. "This was much needed, but details on how this agreement will play out are critical. We will watch the next process closely, hoping that the IRS receives the funding it needs to do its work for America's taxpayers," he concluded.
At the meeting, the Board also reviewed the IRS' FY2013 performance, including its progress in combatting tax fraud. Despite it being a tough year, the IRS delivered a successful filing season, processing over 140 million individual tax returns, achieving an 82.5 percent e-filing rate, and issuing over 108 million refunds totaling $295 billion. The IRS also made significant progress in preventing refund fraud and assisting victims of identity theft by identifying more than six million suspicious returns and preventing over $13 billion in fraudulent refunds.
The results of the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey were also discussed. According to the survey, while a vast majority of IRS employees continue to believe the work they do is important, many are not satisfied with stagnant pay and fewer opportunities to advance their careers.
"It's a fact that employee engagement results in better performance," said Board member Bob Tobias. "IRS employees have done extraordinary work in the face of budget constraints, but the latest survey indicates some weariness. Attention to the workforce is needed. IRS Commissioner Nominee John Koskinen said in his statement before the Senate Finance Committee last week that if confirmed, boosting employee morale is high on his list of priorities, and that's a very good thing."
The Board was briefed on IRS plans for the upcoming filing season and its progress in developing an agency-wide risk management program. The IRS and Board are working together to determine how the Board can support this effort. The Board was also updated on the IRS' progress in developing new online services for taxpayers and its efforts in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
The Board will next meet in Washington, DC on February 18, 2014.