Nationwide Tax Forums Help IRS Connect

Nationwide Tax Forums help IRS connect, share information with tax pros
Nearly 1,500 tax professionals from across the country convened in Chicago last week at the first of this summer’s five IRS Nationwide Tax Forums.

The Tax Forums, organized by Communications and Liaison’s National Public Liaison, helped educate tax professionals on a variety of emerging and ongoing tax administration and tax law issues. In all, 42 different sessions were offered, overseen by IRS leaders in areas including W&I, SB/SE, LBI, TE/GE, Appeals, the Return Preparer Office, the Office of Professional Responsibility as well as national tax associations. Participants receive Continue Professional Education credit.

“The forums provide an important link between the IRS and the tax community, helping us share information and hear questions and concerns from tax professionals,” said NPL Director Candice Cromling (C&L, Washington, D.C.).

Commissioner John Koskinen provided the keynote address on July 12 following separate town hall meetings with IRS employees in Chicago. Koskinen thanked the tax professionals for their support and outlined a number of priority areas facing the tax community in the year ahead.

The commissioner also discussed the ongoing Future State efforts, which were a recurring theme during the Chicago event. Future State was also the specific focus of one of the seminars, and the Taxpayer Advocate Service led a focus group.

In addition, one of the most popular stops was an interactive information booth staffed by members of Online Services and SB/SE. Dozens of participants asked questions about Future State and shared information on how they use IRS.gov. Hundreds of people participated in a survey to rank the top five areas of IRS.gov that were most important to them out of a list of 72 tasks. These insights will help improve how IRS.gov content is structured and organized so users can more easily find what they need. Also, computer simulations were available for participants to walk through examples of potential taxpayer tools.

As part of that, Jennifer Amarante (Washington, D.C.) and Lachelle Fryett (Brooklyn, New York) were among the OLS employees answering questions and demonstrating how secure messaging and an online account might look for taxpayers and tax professionals.

“People have been extremely positive and are excited to see these ideas,” Amarante said.

“The forums reflect a year-round effort,” added Liaison/Tax Forum Branch Chief¬†Patricia Young (C&L, Washington, D.C.), who helps lead the Forum preparation efforts for NPL. “There’s an intense planning and coordination effort to bring all these pieces together. The IRS business units play an incredibly helpful role, pulling information together and providing the heart of these sessions. We couldn’t do this without them.”

The forums, funded by tax professional participant fees and exhibit hall vendors, continue through mid-September. IRS will hold upcoming forums in New Orleans, Washington, Orlando and San Diego.