In the two previous posts, we took a look at some of the assessments the IRS leadership made about 2019 and how the agency responded. In this edition, we’ll look forward.
Pivotal for Commissioner Chuck Rettig and his agency is the FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which serves as a roadmap for decisions on how best to allocate IRS resources, programs and operations. To that end, the IRS Annual Report for 2019 has six strategic goals that reflect Rettig’s priorities and aim to guide the IRS decision-making machinery in the coming years.
GOAL 1: Empower and Enable All Taxpayers to Meet Their Tax Obligations
“We will empower taxpayers by making it easier for them to understand and meet their filing, reporting and payment obligations. We continue to add and enhance tools and support to improve taxpayers’ and tax professionals’ interactions with the IRS on whichever channel they prefer.”
GOAL 2: Protect the Integrity of the Tax System by Encouraging Compliance through Administering and Enforcing the Tax Code
“The American tax system is based on voluntary compliance and supported by appropriate enforcement. As part of the IRS’s efforts to close the tax gap, we will pursue innovative approaches to understand, detect and resolve potential noncompliance. We will use behavioral insights on how people process and react to information. This will inform how we design programs to encourage voluntary compliance.”
GOAL 3: Collaborate with External Partners Proactively to Improve Tax Administration
“Partnerships with IRS stakeholders enrich service to taxpayers. Collaboration will yield innovative solutions to pressing problems, improving the taxpayer experience. We will engage partners to improve service and outreach to taxpayers, enhance global collaboration and share leading practices.”
GOAL 4: Cultivate a Well-Equipped, Diverse, Flexible and Engaged Workforce
“IRS employees are committed to serving the American taxpayer. We strive for a culture that values innovation, welcomes multiple perspectives and celebrates diversity. The IRS’s approach to development will be complemented by a forward-looking talent management strategy that considers future business and stakeholder needs.”
GOAL 5: Advance Data Access, Usability and Analytics to Inform Decision-Making and Improve Operational Outcomes
“We’ll continue to use data to drive decisions and make the most effective use of resources. Advancements across the full data lifecycle—from collection to storage to access to analysis—will allow the IRS to better deploy data and implement insights. Improving data and analytics provides repeatable processes for selecting and assigning work.”
GOAL 6: Drive Increased Agility, Efficiency, Effectiveness and Security in IRS Operations
“We will focus on streamlining and simplifying IRS business processes to serve taxpayers better and improve IRS stewardship of taxpayer resources. Efficient operations and modern infrastructure are the foundation of a stable, reliable organization and are essential elements of sustaining excellent service and enforcement capabilities. Strong data systems are critical to safeguarding taxpayer and employee data from threats.”
A Look Ahead to 2020
Just as the six goals cover a lot of territory, so Commissioner Rettig sees 2020 as a chance to make advances on a number of fronts. One of the major areas he sees advancing is modernization of the aged IRS systems.
“Modernization will enable us to accomplish a lot more, in less time,” Rettig writes. “Depending on budget considerations, as technology evolves, we will continue to modernize our systems to improve the internal and external services provided.”
Rettig also makes it clear that the IRS will continue to enforce the tax laws of the land, in a fair and positive manner. “Fair but rigorous enforcement of the tax laws is critical to ensuring the integrity and fairness of our tax system. When taxpayers file their returns, they should feel confident that others are doing the right thing too. In part, we support those attempting to comply by pursuing a visible, robust enforcement effort aimed at those who fail to comply.”
The commissioner also makes a pledge to protect the data of every taxpayer, whether a multinational corporation, a tribal government, or an individual taxpayer. And the agency has a responsibility, Rettig says, to be flexible so that the IRS can communicate with all taxpayers - whether English is their first or second language – and be culturally sensitive in how it encourages taxpayers to fulfil their reporting and payment obligations.
While stressing his support for IRS employees, Rettig makes it very clear how his IRS will be managed: “All people are important, none more or less so than any others.” The proof of that statement will be borne out in the coming year.
Just about every new IRS commissioner comes into office with big plans that are met with a fair amount of skepticism by the press. Many times the skeptics have been proven right. Maybe now, through the hard work of Chuck Rettig and his dedicated employees, the IRS can finally get the long-awaited changes it really needs.