Washington (Oct. 31, 2002) -- Departing IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti said that while the agency has made progress in addressing its internal problems during his five-year tenure, a depleted IRS staff coupled with "the sheer size and complexity of the tax system" would combine to produce serious challenges in the years ahead.In what he described as "probably my last speech as Commissioner," Rossotti told the American Institute of CPAs Fall Tax Division Meeting that IRS lacks "the resources to attack every single case" of taxpayer noncompliance, and must focus on "the most serious threats to the tax system."

Some businesses and individuals will take advantage of the agency’s limitations, he said – "that’s what (tax shelter) promoters are all about."

Rossotti, who will step down as tax commissioner next week, took control of IRS at a time when relations between the public and the tax service were at a low ebb. Since then an emphasis on "customer service" has improved the agency’s relationships with taxpayers and other stakeholders "significantly," he said.

"The job is far from finished," but "important fundamental elements are in place," he told the tax accountants.

During his address Rossotti expressed appreciation for the Institute’s support over the past five years. "The AICPA leadership has helped me and helped IRS whenever we asked for it," he told the accountants.

--Ken Rankin

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