In the light of a budget cut of about 19 percent from fiscal year 2010 to FY 2016, the IRS, as an integral part of its “Future State” design, plans significant shifts to online channels, particularly online taxpayer accounts, to deliver taxpayer service. The IRS, like tax administrations elsewhere, has reacted to budgetary constraints in recent years by shifting taxpayer services to online channels. Best practices in taxpayer service begin with considering taxpayers’, as opposed to the tax administration’s, needs and preferences. However, the IRS bases its approach on information and surveys that are not designed to elicit diverse taxpayer perspectives and do not distinguish between simple tasks and highly emotional, complex transactions. The IRS’s vision of how taxpayers will interact with it through their online accounts may be unrealistic, conveying to taxpayers a lack of interest in engaging with them.
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