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IRS E-Services: Can They Come Back Better Than Before?

GoalThe online world operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  It never closes.  Our society has become accustomed, even dependent, on this real-time environment at its fingertips.  We read the news online, buy everything from clothes to home goods to work-out DVDs online, pay our bills online, even look for a potential mate online.  And we do all of these things whenever we want, and anywhere we want - as long as there is Wi-Fi!

But, soon, there will be something that you as a tax practitioner will no longer be able to do online: communicate with the IRS in certain circumstances.  The IRS announced on its website that as of August 11, it would no longer offer the Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution products online due to low usage. This news caused an outcry from the tax practitioner community; many signed petitions to keep them up and running.  We received a flood of emails and phone calls from our members, rightfully concerned about the negative impact that losing these two products will have on their practice.

These two products were part of IRS’ broader e-services suite that allows tax professionals to conduct business with the IRS online.  Until Aug. 11, tax practitioners can electronically submit a Power of Attorney form and obtain tax transcripts for clients almost immediately, which was especially helpful during busy season.

In hopes of negating the disruption that would be caused by the elimination of these products, the AICPA urged IRS to reconsider doing away with them.  We explained that many of our members had come to rely on these e-services products to quickly and efficiently submit Powers of Attorney, as well as resolve certain client account issues.  

After our letter was submitted, we learned that low usage wasn’t the only reason the IRS decided to discontinue offering these services products.  The contract on the portal currently housing the DA and EAR products expires in August and will not be renewed.  In its place will be a more modern, upgraded portal with increased flexibility and security, which comes at a higher cost.  Since the IRS has limited funds, they had to make tough choices about which services to move to the new portal and DA and EAR didn’t make the cut.  So, these products will go dark on Aug. 11 as planned. 

Once the DA and EAR are no longer available online, tax practitioners who need to submit a Power of Attorney or resolve a client account issue will have to do it the old fashioned way – by mailing or faxing Powers of Attorney to the appropriate IRS location and calling the Practitioner Priority Service line for assistance with client account issues. 

While practitioners may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride in the short term, the AICPA will continue to push for the IRS to resume providing these critical services electronically.  We plan to provide input to the IRS on the products that are going to be available through the new portal, as the IRS does plan to launch new applications on it, including a new transcript application.  We are hopeful that these products will be back online soon, and better than ever.

Kristin Esposito, CPA, Tax Technical Manager, American Institute of CPAs. Kristin serves as staff liaison to the International Tax Technical Resource Panel as well as the Employee Benefits Tax Technical Resource Panel and related task forces.  Before coming to the AICPA, Kristin spent more than 15 years in a variety of corporate tax positions.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from West Chester University and a Master of Taxation from Villanova School of Law.

Goal image via ShutterStock.

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