Several tax laws have expired or will later this year,and if Congress waits to act,the IRS will have to issue new forms and instructions.
Shulman said if Congress takes too long it could create “total confusion,where some people are filing under one law,and some under another.”
Inaction from Congress could lead to the IRS delaying the beginning of the filing season in 2013,he said.
It wouldn’t be the first time. In 2006 the IRS delayed some e-filing because of tax legislation passed late in 2005.
Shulman spoke at the National Press Club about improvements at the IRS under his leadership. He was appointed in 2008 to a five-year term. He said he would serve out his term but would not have a second term.
Theresa Werner,the National Press Club president,said in her introduction that,while Shulman described himself as a nonpartisan government official,“he has been very publically involved in discussions at the highest levels of government about everything from health-care reform to tea party politics.”
The IRS is involved in the health care law because “most of the money that flows in that legislation is effectuated through the tax system,” Shulman said.
Shulman said the tax code should be simplified.
“Both parties,the administration and Congress would like to see a simpler tax code,” he said.
But Shulman said getting consensus on how to do that can be difficult because it could change the amount of taxes people pay.
“In the meantime,we have a tax code that’s very complex,” Shulman said.
Shulman said there have been more than 3,000 changes to the tax code since 2000. During the payroll tax reduction debate in 2010,Sen. Max Baucus,D-Mont.,said there had been more than 15,000 changes to the tax code since 1986.
To help simplify filing taxes the IRS began requiring tax preparers to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. The number is supposed to ensure tax preparers are adequately trained and requires they be accredited annually. Certified public accountants and attorneys are exempt from the rule. The Institute for Justice is leading a lawsuit against the IRS over the PTIN requirement,claiming it discriminates against independent tax preparers.
Shulman said when the IRS made its changes it “did in it in a very deliberate and a very public way.”
“Overwhelmingly taxpayers,public interest groups,prepares themselves,said it’s ridiculous that there is no basic level of competency in the preparer community,and you should do something,” he said.
Taxpayers get a break this year. April 15 falls on a Sunday,and the next day is the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia. Taxes are due April 17.
Reach reporter Jordain Carney at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.