Federal News Network: How can the IRS improve its operations for the next filing season?

“In terms of customer service, the IRS is in a difficult spot of the late. Filing season extra duties piled on by Congress and some enduring technology issues – No wonder taxpayers could hardly get through with a phone call. For how the agency might be improving things for the next filing season, Federal Drive with Tom Temin turned to the National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins…”

“Erin Collins: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge we had at the beginning of this filing season is we still have the carryover from last filing season. So the end of December, we had approximately 11 million returns from 2019 year [have] not been processed. So that was a challenge because they were ready backlog before they even started the process. And those were the paper returns. So my goal for the IRS would be that we have all the backlog cleaned up long before year end, so that we can start with a fresh slate going forward. IRS also needs additional employees, which is a real challenge. I know Congress has been speaking about increasing the IRS budget. That is imperative to providing taxpayer good service. We need the additional employees, and we need additional it funding because the IRS as it’s been advertised and discussed a long time, some of their systems, the language that they use is back to COBOL. A lot of your listeners may not even be familiar with it because that is something that was around the time I was going to high school in college. So it’s been in a process for a long time. And that needs to be updated, and that needs to be changed.

Tom Temin: Actually, it’s assembler, which is even older than COBOL. And the issues are interrelated, because the ability, say, for a bot to look up something means it has to look at a system capable of being looked up to by a bot. And that may not be the case for some of the ancient database architectures they’ve got.

Erin Collins: Right, and they are embarking on what they call the enterprise case management system, which is really trying to get what I will call a 360-view so that when you go into the system, you can see all the various parts of taxpayer records and IRS information, challenges now that they have an excess of 60 standalone systems that don’t talk to each other. So you got it right on the head – it’s very difficult, even if they started to program some of these robotics so they could answer, they can access various information. So until that gets accomplished, it’s going to be difficult to do what they would envision…” Read the full interview here.

Source: How can the IRS improve its operations for the next filing season? – By Tom Temin, July 20, 2021. Federal News Network.

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