Apparently it wasn’t only me who thought the new Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) guidelines were ambiguous. I don’t think the PPS customer service reps understand them either. The best I could tell, I thought that they would be checking qualifications more closely, maybe even refusing to speak with anybody lacking a duly executed power of attorney.
It wasn’t long before I was able to test my theory. Here’s how my first post-Jan. 6th PPS call went:
IRS: “How can I help you today, Mr. Wetenkamp?”
ME: “It’s my first call on this case; can you just give me an account overview such as balances due, missing returns, collection status, etc.?”
IRS: “Oh no, we can’t help you with that sort of thing anymore. As of January 6, 2014 we are only allowed to assist you with active tax issues.”
ME: “WELL THEY DO OWE TAXES, DON’T THEY?!”
IRS: “Uh, . . . well, . . . yes.”
When the IRS makes informal procedure adjustments it is usually impossible to tell how they will materialize at the individual call centers. For one thing, call center managers do not always interpret internal memoranda uniformly, so it is common to have slight variations from one city to the next. But even if all IRS managers agreed, something inevitably gets lost between the team meeting where the memo is thoroughly explained and the cubicles of IRS rank and file. You’ve probably heard anecdotally that the IRS doesn’t follow its own rules. Well, this is precisely where it comes from and it happens every single day.