The IRS Problem Resolution Program

Article excerpt

One of IRS's major, well-publicized initiatives has been to make the service much more "customer-service-oriented" by reducing taxpayer burdens (to the extent possible) and improving quality and customer satisfaction. To that end, several programs addressing taxpayer problems have been implemented.

PROBLEM RESOLUTION PROGRAM

The problem resolution program (PRP) was created in 1977 to help taxpayers when regular contact with the IRS failed to resolve their problems. Although the program has been around for more than two decades, it is only in the last few years--with the passage of Taxpayer Bill of Rights 1 and 2--that it has become effective.

Objectives. The PRP is not meant to be a substitute for the formal IRS appeals process or to resolve legal or technical tax questions. Rather, the program was designed to achieve three specific goals:

* To ensure that taxpayer rights are protected and that problems not resolved through normal channels are handled promptly.

* To identify the areas where taxpayers have problems with the service and bring them to IRS management attention.

* To serve as an advocate for taxpayers within the IRS, representing their interests and concerns in the service's decision-making processes.

Referral to PRP. As noted, not every taxpayer problem or issue is appropriate to be handled through the PRE Therefore, the IRS developed criteria to determine when a problem should be referred:

* Second contact, same issue. Any contact indicating the taxpayer has not received a response at least 30 days (60 days if the issue involves filing an original or an amended return or claim) after the taxpayer's initial inquiry or complaint.

* No response by date promised. Any contact indicating the taxpayer has not received a response by the date promised (including commitment dates on IRS forms).

* System failure or best interests. Any contact indicating that established systems failed to resolve the taxpayer's problems or when it is in the best interests of the taxpayer or the IRS that the case be resolved in the PRP. …