Short-Staffed IRS: Not A Good Thing For Taxpayers

those additional jobs never materialized. Here are the three big areas of collections that I am almost positive the IRS has allowed to continue to be short-staffed through

The closest IRS field office to me, in New Haven, is losing its most seasoned Revenue Officer (and really fair guy) on December 31st, 2011. His replacement? No one. This troubles me because it leaves us dealing with a short-staffed IRS. I'd like to explain the cuts in staffing that I have personally experienced, why the reduction in collection personnel is not necessarily a good thing for taxpayers, and the only way to use the IRS' overburdened collection force to best advantage.


In 2009, the Obama administration promised big increases in IRS collection staff, BUT forces of attrition and retirements:


1. IRS Technical Services: This is the department you send your request for all federal tax  lien work, i.e., IRS federal tax lien releases, lien subordinations, lien withdrawals and certificates of no interest. The closest office to me, in Boston, has 2/3 of the workforce and double the workload (as the IRS has vastly increased its lien filings) in the past few years. This means that the governmental employees who are handling your request for federal tax liens are exhausted and probably not willing to go above and beyond to help you out.


2. IRS Field Offices: The Connecticut Field Offices in Wethersfield, Waterbury, New Haven, Norwalk and Bridgeport  have lost a tremendous amount of their best revenue officers to retirement. As group managers (the bosses of revenue officers) retire, revenue officers are promoted and no replacements are hired. The last revenue officer positions filled that I can recall in the entire state of Connecticut were in New Haven… and nearly two years ago. Yet only two were hired. Of those two hired, one has already left for a position with the IRS criminal investigation division.  Did anyone fill that open position? Doubtful.


3. IRS appeals: The closest appeals office to me, also in New Haven, lost two of its veterans. These were very capable, very thoughtful and very patient men. This appeals office handles appeals from Manhattan up to Madison, Connecticut, but now there is only one appeals officer for the whole territory. How do you think her job is going? Also, remember for certain types of appeals, the Collection Appeal Program (CAP), the case has to be resolved in 5 days — so everything else has to be put on hold for that one appeals officer.  


What you need to know if you are dealing with the IRS

If you are looking for the best resolution, you have to know (1) what is arguable, (2) what is likely and (3) what the IRS needs to find in your favor.


We have  been successful in negotiations by doing the majority of the IRS' work for them. We want the IRS to have well-documented packages that support a reasonable position that clearly point to the relevant section of the Internal Revenue Manual.  We want them to have to spend a minimal amount of time doing leg work and like that they have a well-documented package virtually handed to them. We want them to know that we are their partners in helping to close cases from their overburdened case inventory.


Just a warning

For taxpayers who think they can take advantage of the IRS' short-staffed position by frustrating the IRS, do NOT be foolish. The IRS has the most powerful collection tools in the world at their fingertips. They have the ability to levy and lien without court orders (One certified letter and a couple of mailings is all its takes). And guess what? When you want that levy or lien released quickly…you will now be dealing with a short-staffed IRS and it will be frustrating.