Koskinen's Press Club Speech

The IRS Commissioner typically speaks at a National Press Club luncheon once a year.  It is the perfect venue to learn about the Commissioner, his vision, and everything at the top of his to-do list.  Here are a few things that stood out to me from Koskinen’s Press Club remarks from April 2nd, 2014:

  • He enjoys college basketball, . . . or at least March Madness, . . . or at least Duke.  He made a pretty funny joke about Duke’s loss in the early rounds of the NCAA championship.
  • During the three months he has been serving as head of the IRS, he has visited 18 of the 25 largest IRS offices.  He has jumped right in and run around quite a bit for an old guy.
  • He likes to hear the opinions of the minions.  I really do respect this approach and hope that it is more than just words and becomes part of the culture at the IRS.
  • He is realistic; he does not pretend to be perfect and he doesn’t expect IRS employees to be perfect either. In fact, he said that his theory is “bad news is good news,” meaning that even negative reports have a silver lining because at least it signifies that the news is getting reported.  After all, a problem cannot be corrected unless and until it has been identified.  I see his point, but I’m not sure I would have taken it that far.
  • He is big on the whole idea of restoration of public trust and the notion that every taxpayer should be treated fairly.  He spent a large portion of his talk discussing the investigations into the IRS’ tax exempt application scandal.
  • He wraps up by commenting on the tax filing season, problems with voluntary compliance and tax fraud, FACTA, customer service (by phone and at local service centers), tax reform, and administration of applicable provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
  • The biggest problem, according to the Commissioner, is insufficient funding.  He basically needs another billion dollars, give or take.

Shulman Looks Back on His Accomplishments

photo via npr.org

Doug Shulman will be completing his term as IRS Commissioner on November 11, 2012. He spoke to the AICPA in Washington D.C. today. Shulman said that he likes to focus on priorities and not get distracted by crises that tend to crop up. His principal achievements:

  1. Shutting down international tax evasion through voluntary disclosure programs
  2. Softening the “adversarial relationship” between the IRS and corporate taxpayers
  3. Transforming the IRS’ account processing from a weekly cycle to a daily cycle to achieve more real-time processing and analytics
  4. ensuring basic competency for paid tax return preparers by getting them registered and keeping them educated
  5. leveraging data analytics to, for example, vet out tax return preparers who make a habit of preparing inaccurate returns or avoid paying out fraudulent returns
  6. improving the customer service experience when taxpayers phone the IRS seeking tax relief and account-related questions
  7. performing all the other tasks that the IRS is called upon to do (such as the enforcement function of the Affordable Care Act)

 [P]roviding quality customer service is a key priority of mine…and every bit as important as enforcement.

~ Doug Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS