TRANSFORMING TAX ADMINISTRATION:
Toward an Effective, Trusted, & Inclusive IRS
— A Series of Online Tax Chats! held in the spring & summer of 2023 —
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Public Law 117-169, enacted August 16, 2022, provides for $80 billion (recently reduced to about $60 billion) in funding over a ten year period to enhance Internal Revenue Service (IRS) resources and improve taxpayer compliance. The $80 billion funding was allocated as follows:
- $3.1 billion for taxpayer services;
- $45.6 billion for enforcement;
- $25.3 billion for operation support; and
- $4.75 billion for business systems modernization.
The last major reform effort for the IRS was pursuant to the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98), Public Law 105-206. RRA 98 was preceded by a bipartisan National Commission on Restructuring the IRS, which held public hearings around the country, approximately nine months of congressional hearings, House and Senate committee reports, and a conference report. RRA 98, then, has extensive legislative history which lays out the clear intent and expectations of Congress in its efforts to reform and restructure the IRS. Not surprisingly, as a result of all this effort, RRA 98 passed the House with a 402 to 8 vote and the Senate with a 96 to 2 vote.
The Inflation Reduction Act, on the other hand, was a reconciliation bill and preceded by minimal formal legislative history. To provide some record and public discussion, the Center for Taxpayer Rights held a series of 15 or so virtual “Tax Chats” with experts from the private, academic, nonprofit, and government sectors on various aspects of tax administration.
This Tax Chat! series culminates in a day-long conference on the same topic. You can find out more about that conference here.
To learn about future events in the Transformation series, subscribe to the Taxpayer Rights Digest here or keep checking back at this site.
Below are the past episodes of this Tax Chat! series. Keep checking back as post updates with videos and reference materials.
- March 23, 2023 (noon EDT): Inaugural Tax Chat! — A Conversation with Charles Rossotti, IRS Commissioner during and immediately after the enactment of RRA 98. For a recent article by Charles and other former Commissioners about starting steps to transform tax administration, see here. You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
- April 13, 2023 (noon EDT): The IRS Budget — what is in it, how is it developed, how are activities classified between Services, Enforcement, Operations Support, Information Technology, and Business Systems Modernization, and how is return on investment determined? Our guests will be Mark Mazur, former Treasury Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy and former IRS Director of Research; Ursula Gillis, former IRS Chief Financial Officer, and Jessica Lucas Judy, Director, Tax Issues – Strategic Issues Team – Government Accountability Office (GAO). You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
- April 18, 2023 (1:30 pm EDT): Information Technology Challenges — how do you manage large, transformational IT projects; where should the IRS start, and how should it prioritize its efforts? Our guests will be Fred Forman, former Associate Commissioner of Business Systems Modernization; David Hinchman, Director, Information Technology & Cybersecurity, GAO; and Marina Nitze, former Chief Technology Officer, US Dept. of Veterans Affairs and co-author of Hack Your Bureaucracy. View this video on our youtube channel here.
- April 26, 2023 (noon EDT): The IRS Workforce — Modernizing a tax agency requires an infusion of new skills and talents while retaining and investing in the education and training of existing employees. Our guests for this discussion of IRS workforce challenges were Doreen Greenwald, National Vice President of the National Treasury Employees Union; and Lotta Bjorklund Larsen, social anthropologist, of Exeter Business School, who has worked extensively with Swedish Tax Agency You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
- May 11, 2023 (noon EDT): Increasing & Maintaining Voluntary Compliance — What is the role of enforcement and trust in achieving tax compliance; what is the effectiveness of audits and audit alternatives, including whether different modes of auditing (field, office, correspondence) are more effective than others; and how are low income taxpayers affected by current IRS auditing techniques. Our guests were Stephen Daly, Kings College London; Erich Kirchler, University of Vienna, Austria; Jim Alm, Tulane University; and Mandi Matlock, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid LITC. You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
- Tuesday, May 30, 2023 (noon EDT): Big Data, Information Reporting, Information Exchanges, and Audit Selection (including racial bias) — Our guests were Dan Ho, Stanford Law School, who is a co-author of the recent study on racial bias in IRS audit selection, James R. McTigue from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Don Fort, Director of Investigations, Kostelanetz LLP and former IRS Chief, Criminal Investigation. We were also joined by Filippo Noseda, the attorney behind the recent decision by the Belgium Data Authority that the Belgian tax agency cannot share US taxpayer financial data with the IRS per FATCA because it violates GDPR. You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
- Thursday, June 1, 2023 (noon EDT): Artificial Intelligence, taxpayer and privacy rights protections; data ethics; protecting against bias; and the use of automated guidance. Our guests for this chat were Josh Blank, University of California, Irvine, School of Law; Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania Law School; Leigh Osofsky, University of North Carolina School of Law, and Toon Calders, a data scientist from the DigiTax Center at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. Josh, Cary, and Leigh have all authored reports for the Administrative Conference of the United States on use of artificial intelligence and machine learning by government agencies. Among other things, Toon is researching how to identify bias in AI learning sets and algorithms. You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
Wednesday, June 28 from noon to 1:30 pm EDT: IRS Correspondence Exam & Issue Resolution Strategy. “Up-front issue resolution” is at the core of the IRS’s approach to its future operations, as laid out in its Strategic Operating Plan, as is improving examination procedures. Our guests for this Chat! are Janet Holtzblatt from the Tax Policy Center; Day Manoli from Georgetown University; and Justin Schwegel from Gulf Coast Legal Services. You can view the video of this Tax Chat! here.
Tuesday July 11th (noon EDT): Effective Notice & Communication Strategies. Our guests are Josh Beck from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, Michael Hallsworth from the Behavioural Insight Team, and Julie Payne, from IRS Chief Counsel’s office, working with the IRS Transformation Office. Our guests will discuss how to use notices effectively to educate taxpayers and influence their behavior, review the current state of and future plans for IRS notices, and explore how notices and other communications should be designed from a rights-based perspective.
- Monday July 17 ( noon EDT): IRS Collection Policies and Procedures. Our guests are Les Book, of Villanova University Law School; Mary Gillum of the Tennessee Taxpayers Project LITC of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands; and Jeff Wilson, Senior Research Advisor to the National Taxpayer Advocate.
- Wednesday July 19 (noon EDT): Challenges for US International and Immigrant Taxpayers, including a discussion of IRS ITIN policies and procedures. Our guests are Pablo Blank, CASA of Maryland; Mandi Matlock, Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Society LITC; Marylouise Serrato, American Citizens Abroad; and Jackie Vimo, National Immigration Law Center.
Tuesday July 25 (noon EDT): The future of Low Income Taxpayer Clinics and Volunteer Income Tax Preparation programs. Susan Morgenstern, Senior Attorney at the Center for Taxpayer Rights, will host this chat; her guests include Cecile Blondet, Espacios Abiertos, Puerto Rico; Jon-Yin Chong, Harvard Law School student and CTR intern; Marshall Hunt, Accounting Aid Society, Detroit; Jordyn Rogers, Rural Dynamics VITA/LITC, Montana; and Caleb Smith, University of Minnesota Law School LITC.
Wednesday, August 9 (noon EDT): the IRS Independent Office of Appeals and the US Tax Court. Guests include the Honorable Elizabeth Copeland, Judge, US Tax Court; T. Keith Fogg, Clinical Professor Emeritus, Harvard Law School; and Andrew Keyso, Chief, IRS Independent Office of Appeals, IRS.
Tuesday, August 15th (noon EDT): IRS Penalty Policy and Practice, with Caroline Ciraolo of Kostelanatz LLP, Eric LoPresti of the US Senate Finance Committee, Susan Morgenstern of the Center for Taxpayer Rights, and Bob Probasco, Directof of the Tax Dispute Resolution Clinic at Texas A&M University School of Law.
Do you have suggestions for future online Transforming Tax Administration Tax Chats? Contact the Center for Taxpayer Rights at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Transforming Tax Administration Tax Chat! series is made possible by the generous support of Arnold Ventures.
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