Jan 23, 2024 - Economy

Dreaded IRS taxpayer notices are getting a makeover

IRS logo and sign that says IRS

The IRS is rolling out simplified taxpayer notices. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Many of the long and often confusing notices the Internal Revenue Service sends to taxpayers will soon be shorter and simpler, officials said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The IRS sends around 170 million notices to individual taxpayers each year. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the letters "have not been as taxpayer-friendly as they could be."

  • "They have been criticized as too long, filled with complex legal jargon and difficult to understand," she added.

What's happening: Ahead of the 2024 tax season, which begins Jan. 29, the IRS announced the Simple Notice Initiative to redesign and simplify hundreds of notices.

  • The redesigned notices will be rolled out over several years and are part of ongoing modernization efforts at the IRS that include cutting down on paper correspondence.

What they're saying: "When a letter arrives in the mail from the IRS, we all catch our breath," IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said said in a call with reporters Tuesday. "So given that initial apprehension, it's really important for us to get the information clear and understandable to help taxpayers."

Zoom in: The IRS conducted a pilot on letter 5071C, a notice asking taxpayers to verify their identity because of suspected fraud, Werfel said.

  • "As part of the redesign work, the IRS shortened the letter from seven pages to two pages," Werfel said.
  • The bulk of the redesigned notices won't start going out to taxpayers until next year for the 2025 tax filing season, Werfel said.

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