Posts Tagged ‘IRS.eServices’

When 68 Minutes of Hold Time Is an Improvement

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

So after the debacle on Tuesday I called back yesterday afternoon. The hold time was far better: 68 minutes. That’s almost a 7% improvement!

On the other hand, the representative I spoke with was quite helpful. Indeed, most of the individuals I’ve spoken with over the years at the Practitioner Priority Service do an excellent job. They are trying to help practitioners. The gentleman I dealt with on Tuesday was an exception (based on past experience).

Unfortunately, it appears that lengthy hold times may be here to stay. Yes, two phone calls aren’t a statistically significant sample size, but this appears to be a pattern. I’m hoping that this composite from Airplane! isn’t what tax professionals will be relating to in the future:

Today’s Example on Why Removing Disclosure Authorization from IRS eServices Is a Miserable Idea

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Today I needed to order a transcript for a client. I had a signed Form 8821 (Tax Information Authorization). I couldn’t enter the form electronically using Disclosure Authorization as I didn’t have past information for the taxpayer. So I faxed the form to the IRS CAF unit, and I called the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS) to order a transcript.

Problem #1: I was on hold for 1:13:30 before the IRS picked up the call. That’s one hour, thirteen minutes, and thirty seconds. Now, I was warned that the wait time would be over thirty minutes, but 73 minutes is a bit ridiculous for the IRS.

Long hold times have been routine at the IRS. I keep track of this, and my four most recent calls to the PPS have had hold times of 31 minutes, 34 minutes, 38 minutes, and today’s 73 minutes. (I was told on the three previous calls, “The average wait time is greater than fifteen minutes.”)

Problem #2: The representative I reached did not have a working computer. In other words, he could not help anyone who reached him. Given that situation, and the fact that this situation only impacted him, why in the world was he connected into the PPS?

Now, I understand that the IRS computers do crash, and in that case an individual IRS representative shouldn’t be removed from the system. However, what good was there of having my representative answering calls when there was about a 0% chance of him assisting anyone?

Problem #3: The representative either couldn’t or wouldn’t transfer me to someone who could assist me. I explained what I needed (ordering a transcript). Why couldn’t he transfer me either back into the queue or to the IRS representative sitting next to him? The only option I received was to call back later, after he helpfully told me that the problem was impacting only his computer. He did apologize for the long hold time, though….


The joy of this is that this will be the new face of the IRS come August 12th. That’s when I’ll be explaining to my clients that the IRS is literally an agency stuck in the 1950s.

IRS Makes It Official: Disclosure Authorization Gone from eServices on August 11th

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Buried in this week’s “e-News for Tax Professionals” was the following story:

E-Services: Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution Applications Retire in August
________________________________________
Due largely to low usage, the IRS will retire and remove the Disclosure Authorization (DA) and Electronic Account Resolution (EAR) applications from e-Services effective Aug. 11.

Last year, users submitted less than 10 percent of all disclosure authorizations through the DA application. Similarly, only three percent of all account-related issues came in through the EAR application.

In anticipation of this change, the IRS has increased the number of employees who process authorizations and has improved internal work processes to decrease the average processing time significantly from the current 10-day processing period.

The IRS will continue to explore better ways to reduce processing time and improve overall service to the users. However, current budget cuts will impact their dedicated resources to this program and they are working to determine the impact on processing time.

Once IRS removes the two applications, former DA users will need to complete Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorizations, and mail or fax it to the appropriate IRS location listed on the form’s instructions. Please allow at least four days for the authorization to post to the IRS database before requesting a transcript through the Transcript Delivery System. Former EAR users should call the Practitioner Priority Service at 1-866-860-4259 for help resolving account-related issues.

The IRS continues to look for ways to improve its current processes and is exploring an improved electronic solution for DA and EAR in the future.

This is not a good decision by the IRS. As I noted in my earlier post on this, this decision will increase costs for the IRS. As for the supposed ten-day processing time, I’ve had occasions where it’s been four weeks for a POA to post. One POA had to be resubmitted three times (over three months) before it finally made its way into the system.

I know that the National Association of Enrolled Agents is expressing its displeasure to the NAEA; I expect the AICPA to do the same. As for whether the IRS will change its mind over this decision, I have no idea.

IRS Reportedly Will Close eServices’ Disclosure Authorization Program

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) is reporting via its Facebook page that the IRS has decided to “retire” two products from eServices: Disclosure Authorization (DA) and Electronic Account Resolution (EAR). Apparently the IRS, which is already cementing its reputation among Congress and the public, wants to make sure that the tax professional community isn’t left out.

For those of you who aren’t tax professionals, let me explain what this is about. In order for me to represent a taxpayer in front of the IRS, I must have a signed Power of Attorney (Form 2848). Once I have a signed POA, I can either enter it in through eServices, or I can mail or fax it to the IRS Centralized Authorization File (CAF) unit. Once in the IRS’s computer system, the IRS knows that I’m representing the taxpayer. If I have a POA, the IRS will discuss and disclose a clients’ information to me. Rightly, the IRS wants the taxpayers to authorize this before I have the ability to see information.

Using eServices to enter a POA has been a great boon for my practice, and I assume anyone who deals with any representation matters. After entering the POA, I can obtain transcripts from the IRS. If a client says he hasn’t filed a (say) 2011 return, I can obtain a Wage & Income transcript and know much of what needs to be on the return. This saves me time, saves the client money, saves the IRS time (I’ve done everything in an automated manner rather than, well, see below), and increases the efficiency of the system.

This shutdown will apparently be effective on August 11th. So beginning on August 12th, I will either have to fax or mail POAs, or I can call the Practitioner Priority Service (PPS). While on the phone with PPS, I can fax over a POA (yes, I have a real fax machine in my office) and the IRS will order transcripts to be faxed back to me. (PPS will also forward the POA to the CAF unit.) However, a transcript ordered through PPS takes up to 72 hours to be received. That means a client in a representation matter will most likely need two appointments before we can make a plan of action. It can take two weeks for a POA sent to the CAF unit to be entered into the system. (Last year there were times when it was taking over a month for the CAF unit to enter information.)

This will increase my costs (which I will pass on to clients). I will have more phone calls to make, and it will take more time to obtain information. While I can do other work while on hold for PPS (hold times have been running about 30 minutes), it usually takes about 15-30 minutes once I am off hold for the IRS to verify the information. I make my income from the time I spend, so I will have to charge a client an extra amount for this time.

This will also increase the costs to the IRS. I wrote my practitioner liaison an email, and noted the additional costs:

  1. There will be many more telephone calls to PPS.  Calls where practitioners must fax documents undoubtedly take longer, so this will increase the need for personnel.
  2. There will be many more faxes to the CAF unit, requiring additional personnel.
  3. The cost for the automated portion cannot be particularly significant.  The products are there already.  In general, the processes are automated, so human intervention is less.
  4. Because it will take longer for many practitioners to obtain information—especially practitioners dealing with collections matters—it will take longer for issues to be resolved.  This will increase the burden on the IRS (both in manpower and in slowing down collections).

I have no idea what the IRS was thinking when they made this decision. This decision is, at best, penny-wise and pound foolish. I guess Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion has been proven again: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This morning, I reported on a decision by the IRS that makes complete sense and will save both the IRS and taxpayers time and money. So a decision by the IRS that would cost taxpayers and the IRS money was, I suppose, inevitable.