Tuesday, May 26, 2009


In his post “Open Government Initiative Soliciting Ideas for Reform from Citizens” at WILLIAM’S TAX PLANNING BLOG William Perez reports that –

There's a new Web site where citizens can suggest ideas to make the federal government more transparent, more responsive, and more efficient. The White House is asking for citizens to submit their ideas for government reform on the
Open Government Initiative site. This site for brainstorming, where citizens can suggest ideas and other people can vote for or against those ideas, and offer comments and feedback.”

National Academy of Public Administration, a Congressionally chartered, non-profit, non-partisan institution, is hosting this brainstorming session, open through May 28th, on behalf of the White House.

According to the website some questions to consider in formulating ideas include:

· How might the operations of government be made more transparent and accountable?
· How might federal advisory committees, rulemaking or electronic rulemaking be better used to drive greater expertise into decisionmaking?
· What alternative models exist to improve the quality of decisionmaking and increase opportunities for citizen participation?
· What strategies might be employed to adopt greater use of Web 2.0 in agencies?
· What policy impediments to innovation in government currently exist?
· What is the best way to change the culture of government to embrace collaboration?
· What changes in training or hiring of personnel would enhance innovation?
· What performance measures are necessary to determine the effectiveness of open government policies?

Bill has “submitted a suggestion repeating the recommendations made by Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson in her previous reports for the IRS to develop a 'my IRS account' portal for taxpayers to log-in and view their tax information”. I myself plan to submit some of the suggestions I have talked about here at TWTP later this week. I may post my submission after they have been submitted.

Bill's suggestion is a good one. Here is the basic idea –

Data about income and certain deductions are already reported to the I.R.S. The agency could make this data available to taxpayers through a sort of "My I.R.S. account". The data is required to be submitted to the I.R.S. in XML format, so the data is already well-formed. This data could made available to be downloaded into a tax software program, or used to pre-populate the required tax forms. Even better, the entire process could be handled on the I.R.S. Web site, whereby missing information is flagged so the taxpayer will know what additional information needs to be found and added so that their tax returns will be complete.”

Click here to read Bill’s complete submission. Obviously there are security concerns involved with this idea, and there must be adequate safeguards so that an “uninvited” third party cannot access the information. Although there should be a way for tax professionals, with approval from the taxpayer, can view the information.

I echo Bill’s request - “If you have a suggestion for reforming the IRS, or other parts of the federal government, I encourage you to speak up”.



William Perez said...

Thanks for the link, and for spreading the word. I believe our clients deserve a better tax system. What really got me is that our President wants to increase taxes by some $61 billion over ten years, whereas compliance costs (including tax prep fees) run about $244 billion per year. So it would make perfect sense to me that we could raise taxes and cut compliance costs, and our clients could still come out ahead of the game. But then again I'm probably being too logical here.

IRS Tax Relief said...

This has nothing to do with taxes, and that you have done some mighty fine work with this blog.