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Office of the Taxpayer Advocate: One watchdog of IRS shortcomings

The Internal Revenue Service can strike a chord of fear -- or at least very real concern -- into the heart of any business owner in Kentucky or elsewhere across the country.

The reasons for that are of course myriad, given that the IRS has staked a claim of interest to matters that extend broadly across the corporate spectrum and touch virtually every aspect of a business enterprise. When it comes to taxation, the government is keenly interested in payroll tax, corporate income tax, sales tax, excise tax -- in fact, the universe of tax considerations.

That makes for a lot of complexity and ready potential for error.

And not just on the part of a business.

In fact, evidence amply indicates that the IRS is under unprecedented pressures and strain that are eroding both the timeliness and quality of the services that it provides to American businesses and taxpayers.

That breeds mistakes, something that is virtually guaranteed by the agency gutting that has occurred in recent years. Reportedly, the IRS workforce has plummeted from about 95,000 employees in 2010 to about 87,000 workers presently. Notably, and shockingly, its training budget has fallen by nearly 90 percent.

That has sounded alarm bells in the 2013 annual report filed recently with Congress by the National Taxpayer Advocate, who heads an office that works independently within the IRS and assists taxpayers having problems with tax audits, tax collection and other matters.

The report notes that, owing to budget and workplace cuts, remaining IRS workers “are less equipped to perform their jobs” than in years past. The Taxpayer Advocate is calling for a bill of rights that outlines what the IRS reasonably can -- and cannot -- expect of taxpayers in light of the agency’s pronounced problems.

When those problems result in a business having a tax controversy of any sort with the IRS, the prompt and knowledgeable intervention of a proven business tax law attorney can help to mitigate tax burdens and fully promote a client’s best interests.

Source: USA TODAY, "Advocate: Taxpayers need bill of rights," John Waggoner, Jan. 9, 2014

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