Professor John Plecnik was quoted in the August 11 issue of Tax Notes, in an article entitled “Efficacy of Treasury’s Data-Driven EITC Projects Questioned.”
John T. Plecnik of Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law pointed to the potential flaw in the two studies examining how mailings can influence taxpayer behavior. “Well, we’ve already seen that correspondence is the least effective way to communicate with low-income taxpayers,” he said. “From my perspective it’s somewhat troubling that there’s still this mail correspondence model as opposed to opening up more opportunities for low-income taxpayers to talk to another human being.”
The IRS should at least run a pilot program to see what difference it would make to “grant more access to a person,” said Plecnik.
“What we haven’t studied is what if there was a help line that was well staffed, easily accessible, where low-income taxpayers could call someone who knows enough about the earned income tax credit to deal with their hypothetical and give them a real answer as to what their obligations are,” he said. “I don’t think the IRS has ever attempted that.”
The IRS has expressed its intention of moving much of its interaction with taxpayers to an online format, which has drawn criticism from Olson. (Prior coverage (Doc 2016-13918).)
And a hotline would only solve voluntary compliance issues, Plecnik said.
“We’re always dealing with half measures when we’re paying before we fully verify a taxpayer’s information,” he said. “If we’re really serious about dealing with refundable credit tax fraud, we should have verification before payment in all cases.”
The full Tax Notes article is available here: EFFICACY OF TREASURY’S DATA-DRIVEN EITC PROJECTS, Tax Notes Today, Plecnik