I agree with Erin Collins on all of her points in her March 24, 2021 Kiplinger article. I was pleased to see the National Taxpayer Advocate using her position of influence to drive a respectful narrative helpful to the entire tax administration ecosystem. IMHO it is in every American’s interest for #IRS to meet its dual mission: inform, educate, and assist those who want to meet their tax obligations and make its enforcement presence a credible threat to those who don’t.

Otherwise, here’s a laundry list of what resonated:

  • Just say “yes” to e-filing: File electronically anything you are able to file electronically. Any other approach is just asking for heartache and grief, particularly given how far behind IRS found itself when we started PY21.
  • File on time: For most “regular” (i.e., Form 1040) filing, that’s May 17th. People panic when they discover (or fear without actually calculating) they are have a balance due they cannot immediately pay. Federal Individual Taxation 101: failure to file is much more costly than failure to pay.
  • IRS was designed to be a tax administrator: It has been saddled with delivering social programs and struggles to do so effectively and efficiently—after all, a tax administrator doesn’t know how many nights your niece slept underneath your roof (i.e., is a dependent qualified for the earned income tax credit?).

Else, a special shout out for hitting on two points near and dear to my #tax heart:

  • Return Preparer Standards: Shouldn’t the person who prepares your #tax return demonstrate at least minimum competency, and shouldn’t (s)he keep up to date on tax law changes? There are several ways to accomplish this—and the regime wouldn’t even need to be compulsory (though I can think of a few ways to invent good behavior). Net, net: the person who cuts my hair (and yours, too) is likely to have much more oversight than the average tax preparer. While some would argue we have over regulated the professions (a conversation for another day), does it make any sense to live in a world in which this assertion is true?
  • 21st Century Account Management: Taxpayers and/or their representatives should be able to access easily their account information, including transcripts. Transcripts are invaluable for practitioners (enrolled agents, certified public accountants, and attorneys) assisting those who are non-filers, or who are under audit, or who owe the agency tax, penalties, and/or interest.

And I’ll close with the money quote: “If the U.S. can land a rover on Mars and send pictures back to earth, we should be able to provide a fully functional, fair tax admin­istration system that provides quality service on a daily basis.”

Amen, Erin, amen.

Bob’s interested in a wide range of tax issues – and in issues not tax related, though he agrees with the assertion, “Everything has a tax angle.”