IRS will soon begin the first wave of a plan to hire up to 700 employees to serve in enforcement positions, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told agency employees in a May 3 memo. This will mark “the first significant enforcement hiring in over five years,” Koskinen wrote. The initial wave of hiring will fill entry-level positions and focus on bolstering enforcement efforts, primarily in the Small Business/Self-Employed Division. Koskinen expects the second wave to fill higher-level positions in Appeals and in the Large Business and International, Small Business/Self-Employed and Tax-Exempt and Government Entities Divisions. “While adding 600 to 700 new enforcement hires will not replace those who have left, it will help fill key gaps in our enforcement workforce created by years of attrition and will provide existing employees promotion and developmental opportunities, including serving as mentors and instructors for the new staff,” Koskinen wrote.
IRS is now seeking applicants for membership on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC). (IR 2016-69) Applications will be accepted through June 24. The purpose of IRSAC, which may have up to 35 members who serve 3-year terms, is to provide a vehicle for IRS officials and representatives of the public to discuss pertinent tax administration issues. As described by the agency, “membership is balanced to include representation from the tax professional community, including, but not limited to: tax attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents, academia and the business community.” Those who are deemed “best qualified” will have to be fingerprinted for an FBI background check. For further details regarding the application process, go to irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-
IRS appears to have done a commendable job in its verification of premium tax credit (PTC) claims during the 2015 filing season, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit released on May 3. (Audit Report No. 2016-43-033) By mid-June 2015, the agency processed some 2.9 million tax returns involving the PTC. An analysis of 2.6 million returns with a PTC claim found that IRS accurately determined the allowable PTC on more than 2.4 million (or 93%) of those returns. IRS and TIGTA are still working to determine the cause of calculation differences on 183,000 returns. Computer programming errors resulted in an incorrect computation of the allowable PTC for 28,000 returns. “TIGTA verified that the IRS processes to identify potentially fraudulent PTC claims are operating as intended,” the audit said. IRS also corrected programming errors identified by auditors that resulted in returns not being identified for further review during processing. In addition, IRS corresponded with individuals who received the advanced premium tax credit but failed to file a return. The audit is available at treasury.gov/tigta/
IRS announced that it is accepting applications for the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) grant programs. (IR 2016-71) There is a June 1 deadline for the submission of applications. The TCE program provides tax counseling and return preparation to individuals who are at least 60 years of age. Volunteers who provide such assistance receive free training and technical assistance. The VITA program provides free federal income tax filing assistance to underserved communities, such as hard-to-reach urban and non-urban areas. According to IRS, this grant program “increases the ability of taxpayers to electronically file returns, and enhances volunteer training to improve the accuracy rate of returns prepared at VITA sites.”