August 1, 2022 - Douglas Myser

IRS to resume video tax preparer visits. The Government Accountability Office, or GAO, recommended in a report, to which the IRS agreed, that the service should test the feasibility of holding videoconference visits with tax returns preparers it flags as posing a high risk for submitting erroneous refundable credit claims, to replace in person visits the Service has suspended since 2020, due to the Covid Pandemic. The GAO's management report grew out of its ongoing audit of what it calls the IRS's Refundable Credits Return Preparer Strategy but which it noted goes by a variety of titles within the IRS. The effort entailed visits and letters to selected preparers, with the goal of increasing their understanding of, and compliance with, the credits and other benefits and the preparers own due diligence requirements regarding them. The IRS selects the preparers "using automated filters and algorithms" and may also audit the preparers clients, the GAO said. IRS to resume video tax preparer visits.

The GAO report indicated that between fiscal 2017 and 2020, the IRS selected between 141 and 227 preparers each year for what the report called "knock and talk visits" and between 725 and 968 in person "due diligence visits" but none in either category during fiscal 2021 or 2022, due to the Covid 19 pandemic. The IRS did increase its due diligence contacts by letter to more than 350 annually in 2021 and 2022. IRS officials told the GAO that they were uncertain when in person visits might resume. Although the in person visits were time consuming and expensive, the GAO said they offered a good return on investment, an estimated annual $118 million in revenue saved, against an annual cost of $3.3 million. IRS to resume video tax preparer visits.

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