Have you seen the comments from former IRS territory manager, Michael Gregory, in a recent “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit? Many readers have felt dissatisfied with his answers because he seemed to be overly concerned with defending the IRS, defending Lois Lerner, and griping about underfunding. I talk with the IRS every day and I must say that this guy is definitely “one of them.” As a 28-year veteran, admittedly it would be difficult to remove oneself from that role and the IRS lingo, even after retirement. But this guy went a little too far. As one Reddit user pointed out, he almost sounded like an IRS lobbyist. I totally agree, but let’s move on to something more substantive in his comments.
At one point Gregory compared IRS specialists to medical specialists:
The IRS has 13,200 revenue agents and about 2,000 specialists. I managed 1/4 of the country’s specialists in engineering and valuation issues, with specialization comes an added degree of due diligence and accuracy. It’s like if you go to a doctor you get referred to a specialist – the same thing is true at the IRS.
I do not disagree with this comparison. But the problem should be obvious: there aren’t near enough specialists to go around. Think of the ratio of 2,000 specialists to how many million taxpayers?! Same with revenue agents (the tax doctors); 13,200 isn’t nearly enough. So what happens is a vast majority of taxpayer accounts are handled by (to complete the analogy) the nurses of the IRS — the customer service reps. There are too many inexperienced, undertrained, underqualified employees. It can be very frustrating for taxpayers who reach out for help, and they just want to be able to resolve their tax issues and move on. In many cases, if they could just get in touch with a doctor, the issue could be resolved the same day. But in reality they often get bounced around from nurse to nurse and nothing gets accomplished.
The IRS (IRS insiders) would have you believe that Congress can throw money at this problem and make it go away, but money alone will not change it if all they do is increase the number of nurses.