Work In Progress

Making Amends

While Congress moves to overhaul the IRS, the agency itself is taking steps to address concerns expressed during the Senate hearings. To dispel the widely held belief among IRS employees that they are graded on revenue collections, acting commissioner Dolan instructed IRS officials to stop comparatively ranking the 33 district offices on their tax collection results. He also suspended the distribution of any goals relating to revenue production in the field offices.

After the Senate hearings on taxpayer abuses, the White House also announced a number of administrative changes that are being instituted, including:

  • establishing 33 citizen review boards around the country where taxpayers can take complaints about the IRS. The panels will not resolve disputes but will help taxpayers work with the IRS Taxpayer Advocate's Office.
  • providing IRS operator service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by 1999. As a first step, operators will be available 16 hours a day, six days a week, starting this month.
  • keeping IRS offices open on Saturdays during tax season.
  • reducing by 30 percent the tax notices mailed to citizens.
  • selecting the IRS' taxpayer advocate from outside the agency instead of from within, as was past procedure.

In the meantime, the Senate Finance Committee finally confirmed Charles Rossotti as the new IRS commissioner. Rossotti, chairman of American Management Systems Inc., an information systems consulting company in Fairfax, Virginia, is seen by the Clinton Administration as someone who can alleviate the IRS' technology difficulties and help improve its customer service. Critics have claimed, however, that he lacks the tax experience needed for the job.

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Work In Progress.

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