The American Institute of CPAs highlighted several challenges that tax practitioners are experiencing with the use of the Internal Revenue Service’s Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) line.
In an August 9, 2022, letter to the agency, the AICPA called the “plummeting” PPS line level of service “an area of continuing concern.”
“Anecdotally, we are hearing from tax practitioners everyday regarding their significant PPS line challenges and the impact those challenges have on their interactions with IRS on behalf of taxpayers,” the letter states.
The letter highlights issues with the handling of power of attorney (POA), transcripts, and account management versus automated collections, as well as providing some general recommendations.
In the area of power of attorney, the AICPA offered several recommendations, including having customer service representatives provide a fax number at the start of the call if a practitioner states that the POA likely is not on file and where “a delegated POA is presented and appears in order, do not require the first POA be posted to the Central Authorization File (CAF) before recognizing the delegated POA.”
The AICPA also noted that customer service representatives “are often inconsistent on what is required to be completed on a POA for it to be valid,” and called for better training of the representatives. The organization noted that the agency “should allow use of POAs that are signed by the taxpayer and the representative calling in—even if it is not yet signed by other listed representatives. While the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) provides that IRS staff are to accept the POAs, the IRM is not universally followed in this regard.”
In the area of transcripts, the AICPA asked the IRS to restore customer service representatives’ ability to provide internal screen-print type transactions as well as the IRS message line that existed solely to provide internal and other types of transcripts to practitioners as they waited.
“PPS CSRs have indicated lately that they will not provide internal screen-print type transcripts by fax or secure mailbox; they are only willing to use U.S. mail, which takes 4 to 6 weeks for receipt,” the AICPA stated, adding that the delay makes it more difficult to resolve issues in a timely manner.
The AICPA also called for the elimination of the so-called “law line.”
“Practitioners should not need to consult with IRS staff on interpretations of law—the practitioners should be competent in those areas. Moreover, the breadth of knowledge of the ‘law line’ staff is often not high or incorrect information is given,” the letter states
The organization suggested the law line staff be utilized in other areas of the PPS line to help alleviate long wait times.
Another suggestion forwarded by the AICPA was that the IRS restore the ability of accounts management (AM) staff to grant cycle holds for accounts not in collection.
“Recently, AM has been unwilling to grant cycle holds, referring such requests to ACS [automated collection system],” the letter states. “Restoring authority to grant cycle holds with AM before an account goes to Collection will return more speed and efficiency in resolving issues, will eliminate needless Collection Due Process cases, and will keep more cases out of the Taxpayer Advocate Service as well.”
That being said, the AICPA suggested that automated collection system be empowered to resolve more account issues, such as penalty abatement and other account-related issues and authorize PPS CSRs to grant 180-day holds where correspondence was sent in.
Other general recommendations included staffing the PPS line with “highly trained, highly empowered personnel;” discontinuing the practice of asking practitioners for their social security number and date of birth; enhancing the new automatic return call system; providing more supervisor availability; and enabling PPS CSRs to handle international issues.