The IRS is already working on implementing tax reform, according to IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter. Speaking at a Tax Executives Institute event in Washington, D.C., Kautter discussed current IRS efforts toward implementing tax law changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) ( P.L. 115-97).
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act represents the most sweeping change to U.S. tax law since 1986,” Kautter said according to his prepared remarks, which were provided to Wolters Kluwer by the IRS. He added that the new law will “involve creating or changing a large number of forms and publications, updating scores of tax processing systems, retraining our workforce and educating the taxpaying public about the changes.”
The IRS in January created the Tax Reform Implementation Office (TRIO). The TRIO is responsible for establishing and monitoring implementation action plans and ensuring communication with external and internal stakeholders, among other things, according to Kautter. “The TRIO is our tax reform linchpin,” he said.
The IRS was provided $320 million specifically for the implementation of tax reform in the omnibus government spending package that President Trump signed on March 23 ( P.L. 115-141). According to Kautter, more than 70 percent of the IRS funding for tax reform will go toward reprogramming IRS IT systems. Additionally, new forms will need to be developed at a cost of approximately $75,000 per form, and the IRS estimates about 450 products (including forms, instructions and publications) need to be revised. Most of these products need to be updated by the 2019 filing season, which is a “tall order,” Kautter said. Additionally, over 1,000 new employees will need to be hired for taxpayer services and for tax reform implementation across the Service, including within the Office of Chief Counsel.
The IRS cannot wait for taxpayers to call about the new tax law’s requirements, according to Kautter. “The IRS also needs to be proactive, and provide education and outreach to help taxpayers, tax professionals and other industry partners understand how the law applies to them, and prepare them for the 2019 tax filing season,” Kautter said.
The IRS’s Communications and Liaison operation is preparing to start education outreach to increase public awareness of the new tax law’s provisions. The IRS will be conducting events across the country for both taxpayers and tax professionals, according to Kautter. “This summer, the IRS will again be conducting its Nationwide Tax Forums for tax professionals in five cities around the country, where the new tax law will take center stage,” he said.
Formal published guidance such as regulations and notices, as well as “soft guidance”including press releases and frequently asked questions, will need to be issued to explain various tax provisions under the new law, according to Kautter. A particular area in “critical”need for guidance is the Code Sec. 199A deduction for qualified business income of pass-through entities, Kautter said, calling it a “challenging” area. While Kautter could not provide a specific time frame for when to expect the guidance, he said the IRS is working to develop the guidance as “quickly and expeditiously as possible.”