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IRS Commissioner highlights achievements in farewell address, urges action on AMT Patch, funding and more

In his final public address as IRS Commissioner, Douglas Shulman reflected on some of his accomplishments and urged Congress to pass an alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch for 2012 to avoid delaying the 2013 filing season. Speaking on November 7 at the National Tax Conference of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) in Washington, D.C., Shulman also said that the nation needs a well-funded IRS to enforce the tax laws.

Shulman stepped down on November 9, 2012. IRS Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller will serve as Acting IRS Commissioner until President Obama nominates and the Senate approves a permanent replacement. President Obama is not expected to nominate an individual to serve as IRS commissioner until early in 2013.

2013 filing season

Shulman warned that the start of the 2013 filing season could be delayed if Congress passes tax legislation late in the year. One major issue to resolve before 2013 is the AMT patch, Shulman said. “Our systems are coded assuming that there is an AMT patch. And so, if for some reason the AMT patch does not happen, there would be significant delays in the filing season.”

Achievements

Shulman lauded the IRS’s achievements in international taxation, which included offshore voluntary disclosure initiatives, agreements with foreign jurisdictions to promote transparency, and greater international cooperation. Shulman said that the offshore voluntary disclosure initiatives have been highly successful, having collected approximately $5.5 billion in additional revenue to date.

The IRS has also transformed its relationship with corporate taxpayers, Shulman said. The agency has used the Compliance Assurance Process (CAP), Fast Track Appeals program, and industry issue resolution program to resolve issues with corporate taxpayers more efficiently.

The IRS has also succeeded in modernizing its tax return processing database, which enables the agency to process taxpayer data on a daily basis. As a result, the agency is able to process returns more quickly.

Return preparers

Shulman oversaw implementation of the IRS return preparer initiative. Shulman said that more than 850,000 tax return preparers have obtained preparer tax identification numbers (PTINs). Shulman predicted that the registered return preparer program would ensure a basic level of competency, which would ultimately prove beneficial to taxpayers, tax professionals, and tax compliance.