What’s Wrong with the IRS?

Asking people what they think is wrong with the Internal Revenue Service is likely to invoke a lengthy diatribe — especially at this time of year. Some of us wouldn’t even want to participate in such an odious conversation for fear of exploding or imploding with frustration.

For Glen Ridge resident Mary Jean Potenzone, however, listening to people’s complaints about the IRS’s shortcomings is something she volunteers to do, and even enjoys. And what’s more, she firmly believes that doing so will help improve the organization’s ability to serve the tax paying public.

Potenzone — a longtime corporate tax attorney — is one of two state representatives (and a total of 101 in the country) who works for an organization called the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP). The stated mission of the all-volunteer citizen organization is to listen to feedback about the IRS and serve as a voice for the people. Created by the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, TAP is independent of the IRS, and is seen as an manifestation of President George H. W. Bush’s efforts to create a “kinder and gentler nation.”

“We are the voice of the American taxpayers,” explained Potenzone over a cup of Baristaville coffee. “We speak for those who can’t do so for themselves and make progress for people who have nowhere else to go.”

The taxpayer’s confidante is quick to point out that TAP doesn’t solve individual problems, but works to improve systemic issues. While they can’t make someone’s audit go away, TAP representatives can put people in contact with the IRS’s Local Tax Advocate who can help them navigate the process. “We want to help make the government’s system work better,” she said. “But we don’t want to hear people tell us that they want to pay less taxes. We don’t handle legislation and only Congress can change the tax code.”

The group takes the comments, issues and questions that they’ve heard from taxpayers and work to create possible resolutions or solutions. They then propose their ideas to the IRS, who must consider the suggestions and respond quickly by accepting (fully or in part) or rejecting the proposal. In the case of a rejection, TAP personnel can appeal or resubmit the same topic with an alternate solution. According to Potenzone, “an extremely high percentage of TAP’s proposals are accepted by the IRS.”

The line of communication works two ways, and TAP is often asked by the IRS to review, comment or change IRS tax forms, publications, notices, and press releases to make them more user friendly.

Potenzone is chairperson of a special TAP task force, which is hoping to improve correspondence examinations (better known as audits). “The goal is for audits to be less painful and more productive for both the taxpayer and the IRS, respectively,” she said. In order to do so, however, Potenzone and her colleagues need to hear feedback on what needs to be improved. “We can’t help you if we can’t hear you.”

So as all of you get busy filing your 2010 taxes, think about how the process could be improved and let Mary Jean Potenzone know. She can be reached at 877-999-9345 x 8680 (leave a message), 973-689-4540 or by email: mj.potenzone@weil.com. All conversations with TAP representatives are confidential and can remain anonymous if the individual desires.

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  1. Walleroo, glad to see that your avatar has returned from walkabout. Now about this IRS thing. The past few years have been very trying for my servants. In the confusion I let go my silver polisher and a promising assistant chef. The Maybach, gone. I was even compelled to curtail my ’08 season in St. Moritz, thereby dashing my hopes for any Cresta trophy and virtually guaranteeing a victory for that cochon, Eduard de Robitaille. Muffy was positively crestfallen. Thankfully, I’ve returned to form. Thanks to the job that Steve has been doing back in Mountain View, and Ben’s clarion call to “buy the market,” we’re back on track, as it were. And as a “stocking stuffer,” with my savings from the administration’s tax hike proposals having fallen flat, I was able to refill my NetJets card, and upgrade to the G5, can you believe it? Alas, things could be better. This nastiness in the mideast is certain to play havoc with my fuel bills. I can only imagine how much it will cost to deliver the “Arabella” from Barbados to Nantucket in May, and I may actually “charter” a yacht for Cannes and the Grand Prix de Monaco. But with my delivery savings, I’ll opt for something larger, after all those vulgar Russians with their abhorrent barges have been springing up like mushrooms after a summer rain and taking all of the best slips. Are you free in July? 🙂

  2. What happened to Hildy Fox? Walleroo shows up with remade molecules, and Hildy goes into hiding. Hmnnnn.

  3. Let’s keep this on a positive note now that the Roo has his avatar back……What is right with the IRS?

  4. What’s wrong with NY state. The feds sent me my tax return within 10 business days. I have a feeling I could be getting an IOU from NY.

  5. Hildy is another one who doesn’t pull her weight. Neither does ROC, the rich bastard. Oh, when the revolution comes…

    I didn’t understand a goddam word word you said, deadeye. It sounds like something James Joyces might have written if he were a wealthy Englishman after swallowing 20 mgs of ambien.

  6. I stay away from Ambien Roo, too many stories of people waking up in their hotel rooms after having consumed the entire contents of the mini-bar with no memory of anything.

  7. It does have some interesting side effects. Consuming the contents of the mini-bar is the least of it, don’t you think? I’ve heard of people waking up behind the wheel of the car in a ditch in their jim-jams.

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