Changes Announced for PPS Phone Line

Now I know why the hold times are so long when I call the IRS.

Some people think tax attorneys have a special dedicated phone line at the IRS and we can simply pick up and talk to whomever we want whenever we please.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Yes, we do have a special practitioner phone line, but during peak call times I don’t think it makes much of a difference, at least not lately.  The IRS Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) phone line has, in my opinion, never been the same since the government shutdown in October 2013.

The IRS recently announced some changes to PPS.  The IRS says that effective January 6, 2014, they will only be able to help tax professionals with tax questions through the PPS phone lines.  You have to be kidding me!  Isn’t this the whole point?!  What this means to me is that I have consistently been waiting on hold for an hour each time I call because the IRS Practitioner Priority Service number phone reps have been taking calls from non-practitioners with irrelevant questions!  This is beyond annoying.

This is all a little tongue-in-cheek because I think what the IRS really means is that PPS reps are going to be checking to see if the practitioner has a valid Power of Attorney on file for the account they want to discuss before answering long-winded questions that have nothing to do with specific taxpayer issues.

Also, the service is no longer going to honor live telephone transcript requests.  This makes sense because there are so many other ways to obtain transcripts such as through the automated phone service, website, and by mail.  There is no sense in clogging up the practitioner phone lines with unnecessary requests.  I wonder if the hold times will get any shorter after January 6th.  One can only hope.

Right to Representation Threatened by IRS Carelessness

Didn’t I just write about taxpayer rights?  Didn’t I say something about how the IRS is not interested in protecting taxpayer rights?  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report today that exposes IRS’ disgregard for taxpayers’ right to representation.  I usually like being right, but not when it’s something like this that threatens access to tax relief.

There are procedures in place that are supposed to ensure that the tax attorney, or other representative, is kept in the loop with regard to certain key actions.  For example, an IRS Revenue Officer is not supposed to contact the taxpayer directly when there is a Power of Attorney on file, and a Revenue Officer is supposed to send copies of correspondence to the authorized representative.  However, the procedures are not being followed by some revenue officers and the procedures are not being enforced by some key management personnel.

I realize this is not a direct denial of the right to representation, but any action (or inaction) that would weaken the benefits associated with this right is troubling and should be viewed as a significant threat.  TIGTA’s report mentions that nobody complained about the infringements on their right to representation in any of the sample cases in it’s study, and I find this equally troubling.