Sometimes I think IRS management has a vision of what it wants to accomplish, but no clear roadmap showing their employees how to get there. I can certainly appreciate the desire to take the first step and get the ball rolling on a project; at some point the planning and preparing must give way to action. But it seems the IRS was underprepared for what they call the Return Preparer Visitation Project (RPVP). While the latest TIGTA report puts a positive spin on the RPVP, if you read between the lines, its was obviously a waste of time and money.
The IRS badly wants to partner with paid return preparers because they see how important their role is in voluntary compliance. Or so they say. But the fact of the matter is, paid return preparers just want to be left alone to do their job; they don’t want the IRS checking up on them. As part of the RPVP, IRS revenue agents were sent out to make in-person visits to thousands of return preparers around the country (nearly 2,500 visits in 2011 alone), and enrolled agents, CPAs, and tax attorneys were not excluded.
However, according to TIGTA, the criteria used to determine which return preparers would get a visit were found to be lacking. In other words, the competent and ethical return preparers had to stay after school and clean erasers for something the naughty returns preparers did. Because the visitations were not properly targeted, there is resentment stewing among some preparers who feel they didn’t need an IRS agent popping in to tell them something they already knew.
I’m sure the revenue agents didn’t mind leaving their cubicles for these little field trips, but next time the IRS needs to have a better plan to ensure they are productive.