When Brian L. Thompson, CPA, a partner with
Bailey & Thompson Tax & Accounting, P.A., in Arkansas, was forced by the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) to conduct a tax return audit for a client with an IRS
representative on April 15, 2015, he was surprised and disappointed that this awkward
timing could not be adjusted to a date other than the IRS tax filing deadline.
So imagine his shock when a similar situation happened again this year. Tax returns for
two individual clients and their three related business were audited, this time in January.
The IRS auditor finished the field work in February, and audit reports were due by mid-March.
But March turned into April, and on April 3 Thompson received audit reports with
comments due by April 8. Some adjustments needed to be made to the reports, and the
auditor finally provided an updated report on April 7 with an April 18 due date for
“This is exactly the type of problem we often face with the IRS, and it could be avoided
so easily if the IRS simply recognized that early April is the busiest time of the year for
tax preparers,” says Thompson, who is also Second Vice President of the National
Society of Accountants (NSA). “And ironically, it’s because of the tax deadline that they
set! So it seems that common sense would dictate that any other time of the year would
be better to close out an audit.”
To deal with this and other challenges tax preparers face with the IRS, NSA last year
issued a “Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights.”
NSA hopes the Bill of Rights will establish timely enactment of tax laws and regulations
and reasonable levels of IRS service for tax practitioners, who file 60 percent of the tax
returns received by the IRS each year.
Read the full Bill of Rights here.
NSA issued the Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights at a time when the U.S. House of
Representatives Appropriations Committee Financial Services and General
Government Subcommittee voted to cut the IRS budget by $838 million (7.7 percent),
continuing a multi-year decline in IRS funding. The funding situation has not improved
NSA Executive Vice President John Ams says, “It’s ironic that the IRS has time to
conduct tax audits during the height of tax season, yet tax practitioners cannot get
timely responses from the IRS for questions we pose on behalf of our clients because
the IRS cannot afford the staff it needs to answer the phones.”
NSA will highlight and distribute the Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights at several upcoming
IRS Tax Forums this year in an effort to move forward on these proposed rights. NSA
has also established an online petition for tax practitioners to sign to express support for
the Tax Practitioners Bill of Rights, available here. The IRS already has a Taxpayer Bill of Rights, but Ams notes that this does not address
the many challenges that tax practitioners face when preparing returns for the 60
percent of U.S. taxpayers who hire them to prepare their tax returns.
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