Larry Gray, President of the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), played a key role in voicing the concerns of tax professionals with regard to the IRS's effort to restructure the Offer in Compromise (OIC) program.
Mr. Gray met with senior IRS personnel, including Robert Wenzel, IRS Deputy Commissioner and Kevin Brown, Assistant to the Commissioner, in Washington DC, to discuss the cost of streamlining the collection process and improve communications with the IRS. "Our goal is to improve the communications with the Service. If there is a systemic problem, it needs to be addressed. Professionals and the IRS need a way to contact the each other in a timely manner," stated Mr. Gray.
Other changes include the possible introduction of an OIC user or filing fee. This proposal met with stiff opposition from many tax professionals, including Mr. Gray. "The idea of charging a fee for submitting an offer in compromise creates a barrier to those taxpayers that are in most need of using the program," added Mr. Gray. "If it's a matter of an accounting transfer, with no additional fees above the amount of the offer, that's one thing but charging a fee in addition to the amount offered may create an additional hardship. The whole concept of an offer in compromise is to help the taxpayer make things right with the IRS."
The OIC program is increasingly viewed within the Service as a critical collection tool. The program has grown dramatically over the past five years such that it now occupies a disproportionate percentage of IRS resources available for collections. The IRS continues to look for ways to streamline the offer process. It is consolidating OIC processing to two Service Centers, Brookhaven and Memphis. The IRS hopes to settle 70% of the offers expeditiously, with the remaining 30% handled by field agents.
Larry Gray and NATP have proposed alternatives to the user fee that are aimed to accomplish the same policy ends. "We are looking for ways to include the fee in the total OIC figure and call it a departmental allocation," concluded Mr. Gray.
The National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP), founded in 1979, is dedicated to excellence in taxation knowledge and related services. The national office is located in Appleton, WI and employs 35 professionals. NATP's government affairs office is in Washington, DC. NATP serves professionals who work in all areas of taxation. Members include Enrolled Agents, Certified Public Accountants, individual practitioners, accountants, attorneys, and financial planners.