Disowning the IRS disaster

This week I created a form letter email to set the background expectations before scheduling a talk with a current or prospective client on a tax resolution issue. It is certainly not something that I ever imagined would be necessary in almost four decades of tax practice. But it is critical, I think, to set low realistic expectations at this time so that IRS disasters do not turn into our own client representation disasters. It’s not that we can’t be effective, but rather that it is important to start by acknowledging that the playing field is different.

“This year the Internal Revenue Service has reached a level of disfunction that we never before imagined was possible. This is extremely worrisome for an agency that holds so much power over our finances.

In general, It does not appear that most taxpayers are aware of the extent of the problem until and unless it directly affects them. I am sending this email to you now becasue it appears that you may be among those taxpayers adversely affected. I want you to be clear on the current situation when considering your options.

Let’s be clear about the current situation:
– Millions of notices sent to taxpayers this year are wrong or confusing
– Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are facing inappropriate and likely unfair collection actions
– More problems are expected ahead; the problem appears to be getting worse not better
– The level of service response to our attempt to fix problems is unacceptable
– Tax issue resolution costs are higher and time frame is slower
– We expect that the situation will not significantly improve in the foreseeable future.

In response to this extraordinary situation:
– We have adopted special business procedures to handle all representation and post-filing services
– We expect less favorable results from our work and therefore need to manage client expectations
– We do not expect the IRS to act reasonably or fairly in resolving taxpayer issues
– We will explore other options with our clients in the event that IRS issues remain unresolved
– Our profesional associations including the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants is taking assertive action to protest the current unacceptable situation.

We should discuss any new developments with this background in mind.