The National Society of Accountants has met with officials at the Internal Revenue Service to try to persuade the IRS not to close down its Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution e-Services.
The IRS announced plans earlier this month to retire the two online applications on Aug. 11, citing low usage and budget cuts as the reason (see IRS to Shut Down Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution Apps). However, many tax professionals have reacted with dismay, saying they rely on the services and find them more efficient to use than calling the IRS’s customer service lines for help.
According to an NSA blog post Thursday by communications manager Julene Joy, NSA president John Ams and other NSA officials met with the IRS to discuss why the two eServices are being retired and what options are available to allow them to continue to operate. The IRS told the NSA that the computer system on which the two applications run is about a decade old and, while the IRS is migrating other applications to a newer system, it requires extra computer programming and the IRS decided it was not worth the time and expense to re-code the DA and EAR applications.
Representatives of other organizations like the National Conference of CPA Practitioners, the National Association of Tax Professionals, the National Association of Enrolled Agents and the American Institute of CPAs also reportedly attended the monthly National Public Liaison meeting with the IRS at IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C., and expressed their concerns, along with the NSA.
The NSA asked IRS officials when the decision was made to retire the two applications and why are accountants only hearing about it now?
“Predictably, there was not a good answer to this question,” wrote Joy. “As near as we can tell, none of the IRS people who made the decision actually used either the Disclosure Authorization or Electronic Account Resolution options and believed the retirement of these options was an easy way for the IRS to save money. This decision was made some time ago. It remains unclear why we are hearing about it only now rather than when there was time to properly address the issue or find alternatives.”
When asked why the IRS chose the date of August 11 to retire the two applications or why they couldn’t at least be kept open until the IRS fiscal year-end date of September 30, the IRS was unable to provide any answers. The IRS similarly was unable to explain the usage data it had cited to justify the retirement of the two applications.
The NSA also asked whether the budget savings anticipated by the retirement by the IRS technology department took into account the added burden on the IRS customer service department or the added burden on tax professionals, who prepare more than 60 percent of all returns submitted to the IRS? The IRS told the NSA officials it would get back to them on those questions. When asked how tax administration would be better served by retiring the two applications, the IRS had no adequate response.
“The IRS is going to regroup and meet with us as soon as practicable to respond to these and other concerns raised at the meeting,” said Joy. “We will keep everyone informed as we work with the IRS to develop a tax professional-friendly resolution of this issue.”