The Internal Revenue Service will be sending out newly redesigned, less confusing notices to taxpayers that aim to improve the way it corresponds with its core constituency.

The nine new notices are among the first to be revised for clarity, effectiveness and efficiency. The agency also will create an office that ensures the effort to improve communications is ongoing and permanent.

“One of my priorities is to ensure that we have clear and simple communication with taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman in a statement. “In the past, our notices often looked more like legal documents and not an effort to communicate clearly. The differences between the old and new notices are like night and day. They show the potential of our ongoing effort in this area.”

In July 2008, Shulman appointed a task group to review IRS correspondence. The group found that IRS notices have different looks and messages and do not use consistent language, creating unnecessary confusion for taxpayers.

Nine notices will feature the new design format beginning in January. These notices account for approximately 2 million pieces of correspondence with individuals, businesses and exempt organizations.

The new format includes a plain-language explanation of the nature of the correspondence, clearly states what action the taxpayer must take and presents a consistent, clean design.

The new format also guides taxpayers to appropriate pages on where they can find accurate and relevant information quickly and easily. By reducing the potential for confusion, the IRS hopes the notices will improve taxpayers’ ability to get problems resolved quickly and improve overall compliance.

A new office, called the Office of Taxpayer Correspondence, will continue this effort, led by Jodi Patterson. Last March, the IRS reduced from 13 to two the number of inserts included for tax preparers as part of Notice CP 161, which is mailed to business taxpayers who underpay their taxes.

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