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IRS Launches Notice Simplification Initiative, IR-2024-19

The Internal Revenue Service has reviewed, redesigned and deployed 31 notices for the 2024 tax filing season in an effort to simplify the notices and improve their clarity.

This is a part of a broader effort to simplify up to 90 percent of the notices the agency sends out to taxpayers on an annual basis.

Included in the first wave of redesigned notices are notices to taxpayers who served in combat that may be eligible for tax deferment, notices that remind a taxpayer that they may have an unfiled return, and notices that remind a taxpayer about their balance due and where they can go for assistance.

“The IRS has a large number of these letters as well as other standard correspondence,”IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said during a January 23, 2024, teleconference with reporters.“And as we’ve heard from tax professionals as well as taxpayers, these notices can be confusing. They cover complex topics. They can include a lot of legal language, and with our current systems and machines, the letters can be a mishmash of looks that do not always have a consistent familiar look you might get from a credit card company or a bank.”

Werfel said that these issues made it clear the agency management that they need to redesign the notices to utilize clearer, plain language that a taxpayer can act upon without potentially needing to consult with a tax professional to help understand the information being sent and potentially requested. About 20 million of these 31 notices were sent to taxpayers in calendar year 2022, he said.

He highlighted the potential that the redesigned notices will have by discussing the pilot program that redesigned Notice 5071C, which asks questions about possible identity theft. The IRS made the language clearer and included a QR code to direct taxpayers to the appropriate web page to allow them to respond to the notice.

“In all, 60,000 taxpayers received this pilot letter compared to taxpayers who received the original letter,”Werfel said.“There was a 16 percent reduction in taxpayers who called the IRS as their first action and a 6 percent increase in taxpayers who used the online option. The IRS will apply the lessons learned from this pilot to a larger redesign initiative.”

By the 2025 tax filing season, Werfel said the IRS is hoping to have redesigned up to 200 notices, which make up about 90 percent of the notices sent out to individual taxpayers in 2022.

By Gregory Twachtman, Washington News Editor

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