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AICPA Deplores “Plummeting” IRS Service

 Train track phoneThe American Institute of CPAs is complaining about the “plummeting level of service for the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) telephone line” provided by the Internal Revenue Service. The AICPA also submitted several suggested improvements in a letter this week.

“We are hearing from tax practitioners everyday regarding their significant PPS line challenges and the impact those challenges have on their interactions with IRS on behalf of taxpayers,” the letter states.

The organization said despite efforts by the IRS to handle problems stemming from the backlog of returns, service levels for the practitioner line have been in continuous decline for several years.  Recommendations were made regarding power of attorney issues, transcripts, Accounts Management versus Automated Collection System and and general issues.

Improvements suggested in the POA arena are the following:                                                                                                                    *Provide a fax number at the start of the call if the POA is probably not on file;                                                                                                 *Do not require the first POA be posted to the central authorization file before recognizing the delegated POA.                                       *Ensure service representatives understand proper taxpayer business entity titles.                                                                                       *Allow use of POAs signed by taxpayers and the representatives calling, even if it is not yet signed by the other listed representatives.

Transcripts:                                                                                                                                                                                              *Reinstitute internal screen-print type transcripts over the phone during PPS calls;                                                                                  *Restore the IRS message line (transcripts);                                                                                                                                              *Eliminate the “law line”.

 Accounts Management versus Automated Collection System:                                                                                                                  *Restore the ability to grant cycle holds with accounts management staff;                                                                                                  *Enable automated collection systems to resolve more account issues;                                                                                                  *Authorize service reps to grant 180-day holds where correspondence was sent in.

General Recommendations:                                                                                                                                                                              *Staff the PPS line again with highly trained, highly empowered personnel;                                                                                         *Discontinue asking for practitioners’ Social Security numbers and birth dates;                                                                                        *Enhance the new automatic return call system.                                                                                                                                         *Empower PPS service reps from one line to handle all types of calls;                                                                                                         *Require reps accept and consider submission of correspondence, documentation and other communication by taxpayers or their representatives through e-services or facsimile.                                                                                                                                             *Allow reps to process and post extensions;                                                                                                                                               *Provide more supervisor availability;                                                                                                                                                                  *Let reps handle international issues and international taxpayers and enable them to apply first-time abatement in international situations, such as international penalties.                                                                                                                                                                    *Prohibit reps from answering calls within15 minutes of when their shift ends                                                                                      *Investigate certain systemic call answering issues. 

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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