(WASHINGTON, DC) The IRS Oversight Board voiced support for Principal Deputy Commissioner Daniel Werfel’s 30-day report, “Charting a Path Forward at the IRS.” In a letter to Mr. Werfel on July 17th, the Oversight Board said it is “pleased with the thoroughness and comprehensive nature of the report,” but made several specific recommendations regarding the Accountability Review Board, the IRS budget, training, and technology investment.
The Board supported Mr. Werfel’s plans to address issues uncovered in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit regarding inappropriate criteria used to identify tax-exempt applications. The Board also believes the plan addresses the concerns voiced by Congress and the public.
However, the Board believes that the newly-created Accountability Review Board, as noted in the plan, should be “carefully framed,” limited to the matter of the processing of tax exempt applications, and not be a permanent feature of the IRS.
Budget issues are a pressing concern for tax administration, and the Board reiterated the report’s statement that “If we do not have funds to invest in our people in terms of recruiting new talent and sufficiently training our existing staff, as well as investing in the technology necessary…service levels will suffer.”
The Board also cautioned the IRS on further reductions to travel and training, and believes that recommendations in the report are too severe and may have a negative impact on the ability of the IRS to fulfill its obligations. The Board believes training is critical to IRS’ long-term success. Taxpayers expect knowledgeable IRS employees when they interact with the agency; this is only possible if quality training is provided to IRS employees.
The Board also felt that the report failed to discuss the need for the IRS to maintain or even increase its level of technology investment in a strategic sense, and urged continued support for strong information technology investment. “If it were a private sector organization, the IRS would be one of the largest financial institutions in the country. It is ‘too big to fail’ and plays a pivotal role in the economy of our country,” the Board states.
Finally, the Board is pleased to see plans for a robust IRS Enterprise Risk Management program and looks forward to further engagement on this topic when the Board meets in September.
A copy of the Board’s response is posted on the IRS Oversight Board Website.