IRS Provides Few Answers to NSA on the Retirement of Two e-Services

By Jason Bramwell
The National Society of Accountants (NSA) met recently with IRS officials to discuss why the agency is retiring the Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution e-services products on August 11 and options to allow these services to be continued.
According to June 13 blog post by NSA Communications Manager Julene Joy, Executive Vice President John Ams and other NSA representatives asked the IRS several questions regarding the two e-services being retired. However, many of their questions went unanswered.
Used by CPAs, attorneys, and enrolled agents to file authorizations and resolve IRS account problems, the two e-services products are being retired due largely to low usage, according to the IRS. The agency stated it increased the number of employees and improved its internal processes in response to this change.
However, the IRS has received a backlash from practitioners who believe they will now lose the convenience of interacting with the IRS electronically.
According to the NSA blog, NSA officials were told the computer platform housing the two products is about ten years old, and the IRS is mitigating other applications on the platform to a newer system. The mitigation process requires computer programming, which the IRS determined was not worth the time and expense to complete.
The first question NSA officials asked the IRS pertained to the reasons why this decision was made and the timing of the decision.
"Predictably, there was not a good answer to this question," Joy wrote in the blog. "As near as we can tell, none of the IRS people who made the decision actually used either the Disclosure Authorization or Electronic Account Resolution options and believed the retirement of these options was an easy way for the IRS to save money. This decision was made some time ago. It remains unclear why we are hearing about it only now rather than when there was time to properly address the issue or find alternatives."
The second question was why August 11 if the IRS fiscal year ends September 30. NSA also asked if it would be possible to keep the computer platform plugged in after August 11. Joy wrote that NSA received no adequate responses to either question.
Next, NSA wanted to know how the usage data computed to justify the retirement. Joy wrote in her blog that IRS officials said they did not have all of the data available and would get back to NSA.
NSA then asked the IRS: "Did the budget savings anticipated by the retirement by the IRS technology department take into account the added burden on the IRS customer service department? What about the added burden on tax professionals who prepare more than 60 percent of all returns submitted to the IRS?" Joy wrote that the IRS would get back to NSA on that as well.
Last, NSA asked the agency, "How will tax administration be better served with this change?" 
Joy wrote, "You didn't really think they were going to answer this, did you?" 
Joy concluded her blog by writing, "The IRS is going to regroup and meet with us as soon as practicable to respond to these and other concerns raised at the meeting."
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