The IRS website has a brand-new look.
Without a great deal of fanfare, the IRS website, www.irs.gov., has been overhauled. The changes first became visible to public traffic on August 31. Michele Causey, director of user experience and design for the agency’s Office of Online Services, had previously stated that the redesign would be ready in August, so the update just barely met the proposed deadline.
The new version of the website is more mobile-friendly than its predecessor, Content has been tailored to meet user needs on a smartphone or tablet. The site will also eventually have the metadata structure needed to support smart technology.
“We recognize that these disruptive technologies are going to be critical to our success, and while we’re not 100 percent there yet, we are working on it,” Causey said on June 1 at the IBM Government Analytics Forum in Washington, as reported in an article by Federal News Radio. “We have done a first pass at doing a redesign from a look and feel perspective, and that is coupled with our branding and marketing strategy for the [IRS]. We’re looking at new iconography. We’re looking at a new organization of the site.”
This is just the first phase of the IRS website revamp. It is part of the “Future State initiative,” a long-term plan by the nation’s tax collection agency to scale back in-person contact and telephone services in favor of online options.
The IRS is also continuing to work on a secure online account so taxpayers can check the status of their balances. In addition, it is developing a new digital communications tool so you can communicate with the IRS in a secure environment.
Besides the changes targeted at taxpayers, the new website features an improved section for “Tax Pros.” This includes access to popular forms and related aspects, e-services, the PTIN system, tools and news about the IRS’ Security Summit. Tax professionals should find it easier to navigate around the site than before.
But National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina Olson recently criticized the Future State program. She argues that a shift towards services ignores a large portion of the U.S. population. According to the NTA, 33 million taxpayers don’t have broadband access, while 14 million don’t even have the Internet.
The updated website is being unveiled at a time when IRS resources are being stretched thin. What’s more, President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget slashes another $239 million from the agency’s budget. Expect that the IRS will continue to rely on improved technology to help offset any shortfalls.