In a time where accountants are consistently overworked and undervalued, you’d think that at the very least, the IRS would have your back… But you’d be wrong. Apparently, the IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, thinks all you accounting pros are sitting around twiddling your thumbs as last-minute tax returns pile up in front of you. Ah, the sweet relief of knowing that you, personally, are causing a backlog at the IRS… At its best, it’s a tone-deaf plea. At its worst, it’s yet another case of underappreciation for an essential industry.
DREAM FIRMS TIP: Stop lazing around and get to work 😉
Why Is The Accounting Industry So Undervalued?
How did we get here? How did we get to the point where an essential service isn’t even being given its due credit by its own governing agency? Let’s be realistic, the IRS has never been known for being sympathetic or speedy. Their website is often difficult to use and looks like it was designed in a Word document. And, despite promised updates, it remains as such. So we probably should not expect top-tier service from them. But, at the very least, we should be able to expect a modicum of support.
After all, accountants, tax professionals, CPAs, and bookkeepers are their link to the public. And, the more accounting professionals involved in tax preparation, tax planning, bookkeeping, and payroll, the fewer mistakes the IRS has to deal with. So why is the IRS pushing the blame for their backlogs onto the professionals supporting them?
The Victims of Commoditization
Many have fallen victim to the commoditization of accounting. If you’re a proactive accountant, working with us, we’ve already given you the keys to combatting this. But, what if you’re the IRS Commissioner? Back in May, Accounting Today had the unique opportunity to chat with Rettig one-on-one. Surprisingly, he expressed gratitude towards accounting professionals and IRS employees for their hard work over the past two years. What has changed?
The IRS Needs Someone To Blame
In July, the IRS released its comprehensive strategic plan for 2022-2026. It outlined their primary goals for the upcoming years. The most important being “to become more resilient, agile, and responsive to taxpayers and to improve their experience while also narrowing the tax gap, the aggregate amount of revenue owed but uncollected.” They intend to accomplish this with massive hirings, improved service to diverse communities, and faster, more accurate over-the-phone assistance.
That’s a lofty goal, especially for an undermanned agency with one of the highest turnover rates in the government. In addition to their comparatively high employee turnover rate, 63% of IRS employees will be eligible to retire in the next six years. And, with the opening hourly rate for their workers starting at $15 an hour, filling the employee shortage is likely far off.
Because of continuously mounting backlog, high employee turnover, and low general pay, the IRS is facing challenges meeting the goals they outlined. They need a scapegoat, and apparently, that scapegoat is you. Rettig is feeling the pressure and has been kind enough to distribute some of that pressure onto the only people that can help fix the problem. After all, it was Dwight D. Eisenhower who first said, “Leadership consists of nothing but taking credit for everything that goes well and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes wrong.” That’s how the saying goes… right?
Are Accountants Under Fire?
All jokes aside (for now), Rettig’s comment was likely made without too much thought behind it. He set impressive goals to overhaul the entire IRS drastically. Naturally, he’ll need the support of accounting professionals to accomplish those. You know it, and he knows it.
However, it is indicative of a much larger problem: across the board, the accounting industry is overworked and underpaid. We doubt that Rettig really believes you’re scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix rather than filing client returns. After all, unlike the IRS, you don’t get paid if your work isn’t done. We also know that Rettig has repeatedly (and recently successfully) appealed to Congress for budget increases. He is aware of the problem and seemingly taking steps to fix it.
But that’s not an excuse for flippantly blaming a group of already stressed professionals. And, you don’t need to appeal to congress to show a little appreciation and understanding. We’re coming out of some of the accounting industry’s most tumultuous years ever. To Chuck Rettig, we’d like to say, “Thanks for the guidance Chief, but we’re already on it.” And, to all the accounting professionals feeling overlooked, maybe it’s time to take things into your own hands….