IRS modernization too slow, pros say

Tax professionals are increasingly impatient about the IRS' slow progress in modernizing its computer systems, but they say the nation's tax administration system is better than it was five years ago, according to the IRS Oversight Board.

The board conducted tax forums nationwide during the past few months to find out what their customers think about its services. The board administered interviews with thousands of tax practitioners and discussed the findings at its meeting this week.

"There is no question that the IRS is making progress in improving service," said Nancy Killefer, board chair.

Practitioners applauded the agency's Web site as an efficient time-saver. Nevertheless, forum participants said the workload of the average IRS employee continues to grow, and many said they were concerned that employees are retiring and not being replaced.

In addition, they said the IRS modernization program is moving too slowly. While most professionals use modern business systems, they say their work is slowed down by the aging legacy system of the IRS.

The IRS is undergoing a long-term modernization program that includes transferring all tax information to a database. Currently, the information is stored on a tape-based system created in the 1960s.

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