The above is the title of Michael Cohn’s recent article at ACCOUNTING TODAY, which discusses the National Society of Accountants’ created “Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights”.
The IRS has developed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights – although it is not officially law (each year the report of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate recommends in its annual report that Congress enact a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights). The National Society of Accountants (known as the “other” NSA) believes that a law guaranteeing things like timely enactment of tax laws and regulations, reasonable levels of IRS service, and removing undue IRS demands during tax filing season should also be enacted to protect tax preparers.
The proposed Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights includes the following:
1. The Right to Have Tax Laws and Rules Passed in a Timely Manner, Including:
a. The right to have tax laws affecting the current tax year enacted no later than September 1 of that year.
b. The right to have IRS forms reflecting any new tax laws for the current year available no later than October 1 of that year.
2. The Right to Quality Service from the IRS, Including:
a. The right to have telephone calls answered within 15 minutes, on a practitioner-only hotline, staffed by competent/knowledgeable employees.
b. The right to have taxpayer correspondence answered within 20 days.
c. The right to have any collection action on the taxpayer’s account frozen while the IRS is considering a taxpayer’s timely filed response to IRS collection activity.
d. The right to have one IRS representative deal with a tax issue from start to finish until the issue is resolved.
e. The right to request a supervisor be involved in resolving a matter if the initiating IRS representative is unwilling or unable to resolve an issue.
f. The right for practitioners with Practitioner Tax Identification Numbers (PTINs) to communicate electronically with the IRS on taxpayer matters in a secure manner.
3. The Right to Practice Without Undue IRS Demands During Tax Filing Season, Including:
a. The right to have an IRS audit moratorium during the three weeks immediately before major tax deadlines such as March 15, April 15, September 15, October 15 of each year.
b. The right to have an IRS moratorium on collection actions or collection information requests during the three weeks immediately before major tax deadlines such as March 15, April 15, September 15, October 15 of each year.
c. The right to have an IRS moratorium on planned software maintenance and computer downtime periods during the three weeks immediately before major tax deadlines such as March 15, April 15, September 15, October 15 of each year.
I do not know if I support a separate Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights. I do, however, strongly believe that all of the above rights are important and necessary to protect all taxpayers, not just tax preparers, and perhaps should be included in a Congressionally-passed Taxpayer Bill of Rights federal law.
The lack of timely action by the idiots in Congress to pass retroactive tax legislation affects every single 1040 and 1040A filer – and not just tax practitioners – as does the right to quality service from the IRS. At least 60% of taxpayers use the services of a paid preparer, so the right to practice without undue IRS demands during tax filing season and extension deadline periods also affects a majority of individual taxpayers.
Any federal Taxpayer or Tax Practitioner Bill of Rights legislation must also include the requirement that the IRS be properly funded to be able to provide the mandated “quality service”, such as the ability to have telephone calls answered with 15 or 30 minutes (on any line) and the right to have taxpayer, and tax practitioner, correspondence answered within 20 days.
The idiots in Congress must not be able to continue to force unnecessary and inappropriate additional responsibilities (such as in the case of Obamacare) on the IRS without providing appropriate, and perhaps directly identified, funding.
And neither the idiots in Congress, nor the IRS, should be able to force unnecessary and inappropriate additional responsibilities, such as excessive due diligence requirements, on tax preparers.
So what do you think? Is there a need for a separate Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights, or should these rights be included in federal Taxpayer Bill of Rights legislation.
In any case – tax practitioners do need an organized and unified voice in Washington to protect their interests before the idiots in Congress and the IRS. How can we begin to make this a reality
+ Jim Buttonow provides a “crash course on often-confusing terms and acronyms commonly used by the IRS” in “Learn how to “speak IRS” to better help your clients” at CPA INSIDER.
+ Jeff Stimpson carries on the debate on whether or not the recent tax season was “the worst ever” in “Retro Grade: What Went Right and Wrong This Tax Season”, which quotes me and my NJ colleague Jaimee Hammer (I second her comment).