Imagine sitting at a table with your family and closest friends enjoying the perfect Thanksgiving feast. The turkey is cooked to perfection, the ham is tender and juicy, the mashed potatoes are creamy and the gravy is smooth, the stuffing is savory, and the cranberries are tangy. Even the green bean casserole doesn’t make you want to gag.
As the food is being passed around the table, you notice a seat is empty between your great-aunt Rita, who is wearing WAY too much perfume, and your brother-in-law Joe, who won’t shut the fuck up about politics. A few moments later the doorbell rings and your Grandma Carol answers the door. “Look who’s here, everyone,” she says with delight. “It’s uncle IRS.”
Audible groans come from the dining room.
In walks uncle IRS, looking like Carl Brutananadilewski from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He’s overweight and mostly bald, with a few strands of hair combed over. He’s wearing a white t-shirt with yellow pit stains that hasn’t been washed since the agency’s computer system was considered “state of the art” and Washington Redskins sweatpants. Tufts of back hair come out the top of his t-shirt collar.
As uncle IRS approaches the dining room table, he scratches his balls, burps, sits down, takes a drink of whiskey from a flask he keeps in his sweatpants pocket, and proceeds to piss everyone off with his bad manners, loud mouth, and stupid jokes.
The IRS has the perfect gift for the man who has everything—it’s called an audit. HA!
Everyone has a family member like uncle IRS. You might detest sitting next to him and his body odor and noisy bodily functions while you’re trying to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner, but he’s still your uncle. In a way, that’s the message new IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was trying to convey during a speech at the AICPA National Tax Conference in Washington, DC, on Nov. 13.
While the IRS might be the tax preparer community’s disgusting slob of an uncle, he should always have a seat at the dinner table.
According to Accounting Today:
“I consider the tax practitioner community to be a family,” said Rettig. “I have long said that I consider the Internal Revenue Service to be part of that family.”
The IRS is in need of such a huge makeover that I don’t think even the guys from Queer Eye could fix. But Rettig, who spent 36 years in private practice as a tax lawyer, is going to give fixing the IRS’s image a shot. First, he wants it known that although the IRS is a huge federal government agency, it’s operated by people who care.
“We work for the Internal Revenue Service. I don’t want employees having to say I work for the United States Treasury and my name is John Doe. I, Chuck Rettig, work for the Internal Revenue Service and I’m very proud to do so. I hope that as my term moves on, others inside the Internal Revenue Service will stand up and say the same thing and that each practitioner will actually reach out and shake their hand. They have been under a really difficult process for a long time. It’s easy for those of us on the outside to stereotype the Internal Revenue Service. They’ve had a lot of issues with budget and staffing, etc., etc., but they are people and they are people who care.”
Rettig also noted that he wants to modernize the agency’s outdated technology, some of which goes way back to the Kennedy administration.
“Are the tools that we need beyond implementation of the [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act], the ability to call up the Internal Revenue Service and ask the IRS person about your income tax return, your business tax return and some filing question? We don’t have those tools,” Rettig admitted.
The new commissioner also wants the IRS to take a page from Apple when it comes to customer service, saying he wants to make it easier for taxpayers to call and reach the IRS in the same way people can reach Apple when they have a question about any of their devices.
“I’ve explained internally that I want our people to spend an extra two minutes,” he said. “There’s nothing magic about the two minutes. But the taxpayer experience is I can call Apple about my iPhone and I can also talk to them about my iPad.”
And if your uncle IRS makes an effort and attends next year’s family Thanksgiving dinner wearing a button-down shirt and tie, nice slacks, and deodorant, tell him he looks nice, Rettig said.
“We can do more, we will do more, but I hope you respect the decisions that we’re making. Give us your criticisms. Give us your constructive criticisms. And if you think we get it right, go ahead and say that.”
Even if your uncle IRS still rips ass and belches a lot.