Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Daniel Werfel is looking to build on the successes the agency has experienced with the first year of supplemental funding provided to the agency by the Inflation Reduction Act.
“I look at yeartwo through the lens of what do we need to do with the next filing season to build on the successes of the previous filing season,” Werfel said during an August 15 teleconference with press as he highlighted a couple of key objectives he has for the second year of supplemental funding.
“First of all, we had a really strong filing season,” he said. “It could be stronger. We want to achieve the highest level of service we can achieve.”
Among the improvements he wants to see are a further reduction in wait times on calls to the IRS; expanding the number of self-service options that taxpayers can engage in when they call so they don’t have to wait to be connected to an agency representatives; and getting more people to sign up for an online account with the agency, as well as improving the online account functionality.
“The idea would be from a service standpoint, the filing features should feel very different than the previous year,” he said.
Werfel also wants to see more expansion in the walk-in service centers, including hiring more workers to allow for more Saturday hours to help people who might not be able to get there during the week due to work, as well as utilizing more pop-up walk-in centers to help reach people in more remote areas of the United States.
On the enforcement side, Werfel wants to see the “anemic” audit rates of high-wealth individuals, large corporations and complex partnerships continue to rise.
“We started to see real meaningful results there,” he noted. “I want to be able to report to the American people that we’re putting the Inflation Reduction Act to work to create and drive a more equitable tax system that’s returning money to the government’s bottom line.”
Werfel also said the IRS will continue with reporting the “dirty dozen” tax scams and will continue to be looking at ways to help taxpayers avoid these scams as well as helping the victims of those scams. He highlighted the recent action of ending nearly all unannounced visits by IRS representatives to homes and businesses as a way that taxpayers are being protected.
“My hope is that in each successive year, we’re putting tools out there that taxpayers are leveraging and saying, ‘this is helpful,’ and are appreciative of the fact that the IRS is functioning better than it did in previous years,” Werfel said.
Recapping The First Year
Much of the press call focused on highlighting the successes of the first year, with Werfel highlighting that the agency provided better service, including providing assistance to more than 7 million taxpayers over the phone, an increase of 3 million over the previous tax filing season and increased face-to-face help to more than 500,000 people at the taxpayer assistance centers, a 30 percent increase. Werfel also mentioned the use of call-back technology so taxpayers don’t have to wait on the phone on hold and can receive a call-back without losing their place in the queue to talk to an agency representative.
He reiterated gains in enforcement as well as improvements on the technology side such as highlighting the recent announcement of more forms being able to be filed electronically and improvements to document scanning of tax forms.
Another aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act that was highlighted during the law’s one year anniversary was by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who highlighted the green energy tax provisions at a recent speech in Las Vegas.
She noted a variety of ways the IRA is helping to spur investment in clean energy, including in buildings and in clean vehicles and is helping the nation meet international climate standards.
“The IRA is helping re-shape some of the production that is critical to our clean economy,” Yellen said, according to prepared remarks that were published on the Treasury Department website.
She also highlighted that earlier this summer, “Treasury also released proposed guidance that would make it easier for these tax credits to reach a broad range of institutions. We are implementing innovative tools that will enable states, cities, towns, and tax-exempt organizations – like schools and hospitals – to directly access these credits.”
By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor