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IRS Oversight Board

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IRS Reports to Board that 2014 Filing Season is Off to a Solid Start

​(Washington DC) The 2014 tax filing season is off to a good start despite the IRS’ budget constraints, according to a briefing the IRS Oversight Board received at its first quarterly meeting of the year. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Board that telephone level of service is better than anticipated in the light of diminished budget resources. In addition, the IRS also told the Board that it has stepped-up its identity theft detection efforts in a number of key areas.

“The Board congratulates Commissioner Koskinen, his senior leadership team and the men and women of the IRS for such a strong start to this year’s filing season,” said IRS Oversight Board Chairman Paul Cherecwich, Jr. “Once again, this is a tribute to the dedication of the IRS workforce. Although the telephone level of service is far below the 80 percent level that the Board deems acceptable, it is nonetheless gratifying to see that the IRS is currently exceeding its goals for toll-free service.” 

However, the Board was concerned by workforce issues, including employee engagement and succession planning. The 2013 employee survey showed that the IRS measure for employee engagement had dropped by six percent as compared to last year. There were also a large number of executives who retired or left the IRS in recent months. 

“The decline in employee engagement is very troubling to the Board,” observed Board Member Bob Tobias who also chairs the Board’s Operations Committee. “An engaged workforce is essential if the IRS is to achieve its mission and meet taxpayer expectations. This is a very serious issue. We are also concerned by the number of IRS executives who left the IRS over the last year. The Board will closely monitor IRS efforts to improve employee engagement, strengthen succession planning, and fill important executive vacancies,” he said. 

The Board was briefed on a number of other issues, including IRS’ role in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The IRS reported through December 31, 2013, it responded to more than nine million requests for income and family size verification services and four million requests for Advance Premium Tax Credit computation services. Work is already underway to prepare for the 2015 filing season when the reconciliation of the Premium Tax Credit will be integrated into the individual tax filing process. 

The Board reviewed the IRS budget for FY2014, discussed the budget outlook for FY2015, and offered guidance to help the IRS build its FY2016 budget.

The Board also discussed IRS’ efforts in creating a new Strategic Plan and updating its long term measures, both of which are progressing but still in development. In the Board’s opinion, these initiatives are critical in guiding the agency’s longer term efforts to advance our nation’s tax administration system. The Board was also briefed by the National Taxpayer Advocate, and discussed several topics from her recent annual report to Congress, including the IRS return preparer program.

The Board expressed its confidence and support of IRS Commissioner Koskinen, but also said it was disappointed that the Administration has not yet filled the vacancies on the Board. “We are very impressed by Commissioner Koskinen. Although he has been on the job for less than two months, he is clearly on top of all the major issues facing the IRS. He is moving the IRS in the right direction. He is the right leader at the right time to help the IRS regain the public’s trust and steer the agency through these challenging budget shortfalls,” said Board Chair Cherecwich.

The Board will hold its annual public meeting on May 13, 2014 in Washington, DC. More information on the meeting will be made available in the near future.

The next Board meeting will be held on May 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. 

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