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What to expect from the IRS this year

It is fair to say that few individuals or business look forward to having to complete taxes for the previous year. Nonetheless, because it is required, many take steps to accomplish the task in a timely manner. Most likely assume that the Internal Revenue Service will respond in kind. According to a National Taxpayer Advocate who releases a report to Congress each year regarding the IRS, taxpayers should not have high expectations this year.

She indicates there are multiple reasons for this including the IRS's budget for 2015 and the lack of effective congressional and administrative oversight. Also cited is the lack of trust in the IRS by the public following recent issues the agency had regarding screening applicants for tax-exempt service and a workload that is too large.

The IRS's budget for 2015 is expected to lead to a reduction in agency employees. This is on top of the recent reduction of close to 12,000. It will also result in a reduction in the training provided to the employees who remain.

These issues could lead to lower levels of customer service expectations. For example, filers seeking assistance from the IRS can expect to wait longer for their call to be answered. In addition, the agency will only answer those tax-law questions considered "basic" in nature. Once the filing deadline is reached it will not provide any answers to tax questions.

On the upside for those filing income tax returns, the reduction in workforce will likely result in fewer audits being conducted.

Overall the state of the IRS could result in taxpayers being left with many questions. When those questions arise, a tax lawyer is often the best place to start.

Source: IRS.gov, "National Taxpayer Advocate Delivers Annual Report to Congress; Focuses on Taxpayer Service and Taxpayer Bill of Rights," IR-2015-02, January 14, 2015

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