IRS Makes Much Needed Changes

Tax season is now upon us, but there is at least one thing that is a big improvement over last year. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has unveiled a comprehensive plan to streamline the complex notices that are routinely dispatched to taxpayers each year.

In a bid to expedite issue resolution and bolster compliance as part of their multibillion-dollar modernization endeavors, the IRS has embarked on a review and revamp of numerous IRS notices. These notices encompass missives concerning unfiled returns, outstanding tax liabilities, and filing inaccuracies.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in a recent press call, emphasized that the revamped notices are poised to be shorter, more lucid, and easier to comprehend. She stated, “Taxpayers will notice a tangible difference when they receive these notices in the mail or access them through their online accounts.”

This initiative, aptly dubbed the “Simple Notice Initiative,” is expected to encompass the approximately 170 million notices dispatched to taxpayers annually, as per IRS estimates. In anticipation of the 2024 filing season, the IRS has already overhauled 31 notices, with approximately 20 million of these revised notices having been sent out during the 2022 calendar year. The IRS aims to thoroughly review, redesign, and implement the bulk of IRS correspondence received by taxpayers by the year 2025.

Building upon the IRS’s paperless processing initiative introduced in August, taxpayers are now afforded the convenience of responding to IRS notices online. Treasury Secretary Yellen noted, “The next step is to ensure that these notices are readily comprehensible.”

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel echoed this sentiment during the same press call, emphasizing the need for IRS notices to be expressed in plain and accessible language, devoid of the need for individuals to seek professional assistance from tax or legal experts. He asserted that clearer notices could have a ripple effect by diminishing the volume of phone inquiries and in-person visits, consequently freeing up staff to assist other taxpayers.

Despite significant strides in enhancing taxpayer service following the onset of the pandemic, the National Taxpayer Advocate’s annual report to Congress, released in January, still identified areas where improvement is warranted.

This initiative arrives amidst ongoing scrutiny of the IRS and the approval of substantial funding by Congress over the coming decade. A portion of the augmented budget was rescinded during spending negotiations in 2023.

Simpler language from the IRS is definitely something I can get behind. While it is nice that tax filing programs like TurboTax and FreeTaxUSA have helped make paying taxes much less confusing for many. I hope this simpler tax language idea can continue and become simpler taxes in general. We can all dream… 😄

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