The mess the IRS has gotten itself in has been fascinating. Having all these commentators writing about the Service from high above the earth offers great entertainment. I have been working with the Service since 1979. Let me offer you some first-hand perspective.
Let me say, first of all, despite the IRS’s horrible reputation there are worse. At least in California, the Franchise Tax Board (income tax) and State Board of Equalization (sales tax) are eons worse in demeanor or concern for the taxpayer. The IRS has vastly improved its attitude in phone conversations over the past ten years, even regarding how they use basic language, such as referring to taxpayers as customers. They are much friendlier in that way. But there still remains an outsized challenge dealing with their revenue agents and higher in their structure.
I could convey hundreds of war stories, but here is one that is typical. I started an audit with a revenue agent in March. It was clear that she had a long way to go. She made a request for additional documents that caused me to speak to her about another appointment at my office. She indicated she was going on vacation and would be back April 16th. I told her I was leaving on vacation the next day. We agreed I would contact her when I got back and we agreed on a date in May. I called her before I left and verified this plan with her.
As soon as I left on my trip she developed another document request and went over to my client’s home to deliver the document. My client went nuts and emailed me. I had to call my client from Amsterdam and then the supervisor of the revenue agent. I made clear that I had a Power of Attorney and no direct contact should have been made to the taxpayer. After going round and round the supervisor refused to acknowledge the highly improper behavior, the supervisor put the matter on hold until I got back.
When I got back the client and I had a discussion with the revenue agent. She did not relent. I asked to have her removed from the case and the supervisor did not. We then appealed to the regional office to have her removed for her errant behavior and lying. The regional office turned us down. When I spoke to the Regional Administrator, he would not remove her. I asked what justification would be needed to remove her if breaking the Power of Attorney, lying to the tax professional and creating a total atmosphere of mistrust were not good reason enough. He refused to answer. I asked him what would be justification for removing the agent. He refused to answer. I asked him if axe murdering my client would be justification for removal. He refused to answer. The IRS has a problem saying they are wrong or saying “I am sorry.”
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