IRS Releases Six-Year Modernization Plan

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released a six-year plan to improve information technology systems and services to taxpayers. The plan includes four “modernization pillars” that the agency plans to expand upon over time based on emerging needs, priorities, and partnerships with the tax community. Ultimately though, the plan depends on Congressional funding.

According to the IRS, the plan introduces a “strategy to modernize IRS Information technology systems and build critical infrastructure needed for the future of the nation’s tax system.”

The 45-page Integrated Modernization Business Plan rests on the pillars of taxpayer experience, core taxpayer services and enforcement, modernized IRS operations, and cybersecurity and data protection. Each pillar includes unique objectives.

To improve the taxpayer experience, the IRS plan calls for a more efficient, secure online platform able to notify taxpayers of tax credit qualifications, due balances, and other important information. This hypothetical online platform would replace some costly, time-consuming mail delivery systems. The plan predicts this switch would save “the IRS and taxpayers millions of dollars” in printing and postage, as well as improving taxpayer knowledge about processes.

In February 2018, during peak filing season, 68 percent of IRS.gov website visits came from a mobile device. As a result, the taxpayer experience pillar also seeks to utilize technology to increase taxpayer access to information through a redesigned, mobile-friendly IRS.gov.

To modernize core taxpayer services and enforcement, the IRS plan focuses on integrated tax processing systems, real time processing and transparency with taxpayers, and increased use of data analytics. The plan outlines several systems which serve these ends.

To modernize agency operations, the IRS plans on “refreshing [their] aging infrastructure” and utilizing expiring contracts as an opportunity to focus on more efficient technology.

The plan explains, “A series of packaged initiatives to support a more efficient, scalable, and flexible architecture implemented through advanced IT infrastructure tools and technologies… Implementing our Next Generation Infrastructure initiative encompasses transformation of compute, network, and storage activities—along with DevOps—to automate software delivery and infrastructure changes.”

Finally, the IRS is seeking to secure taxpayer data more effectively through a Network Security Enhancement initiative.

The plan notes, “Due to the proliferation of sophisticated security threats and the sensitive taxpayer information contained within our systems, we must have an agency-wide, proactive approach to security. Continued investment in technology, tools, and processes is necessary to defend against expanding cyber threats and stay current with changing [National institute of Standards and Technology] guidelines.”

Last year alone the IRS denied 1.4 billion cyber access attempts.

The cybersecurity pillar’s primary objectives are to establish trusted and streamlined access to information through identity and access management technologies, proactively identify emerging threats and vulnerabilities through the use of real-time intelligence information and analytics, and protect taxpayer data and systems via end-to-end visibility and common platforms.

Each major objective will be introduced in two phases from now until 2024 if adequate funding is secured during the Congressional appropriations process.

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