Magazine article Insight on the News

... but the Agency Says It Will Reform Itself

Magazine article Insight on the News

... but the Agency Says It Will Reform Itself

Article excerpt

On the bright side, the IRS reportedly is rethinking its knee-jerk use of a letter it had been sending to targets of income-tax audits, threatening that their employers, banks and even neighbors might be contacted as the IRS attempts to determine their tree tax liability. Instead, the letters will be used only in instances when the audited first have refused to cooperate.

"Many of these letters have gone out too early and needlessly alarmed taxpayers in cases where the IRS had no need to contact outside parties" IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti acknowledged in announcing the change. Ironically, the letters were intended to provide a "fair warning" to audit targets, as required by congressional reforms. But their threatening tone instead seemed a throwback to the heavy-handed tactics which have made the IRS a target of reformers.

A kinder, gentler threatening letter is in the works, according to Rossotti, which will be "clearer" and "better written" than previous ones. …

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