Finding a notice from the Internal Revenue Service in the mail is enough to ruin the day for many people, and the ensuing headache can last for weeks or months, as a taxpayer deals with clerk after clerk trying to get the information needed to resolve the issue. Next year, though, the ordeal will be much briefer for millions of taxpayers who rely on professionals to prepare their tax returns.
Perhaps before spring, tax professionals will be able to go online and get the information needed to resolve many problems in minutes, said Terence H. Lutes, the I.R.S. director for electronic tax administration.
For taxpayers, speeding the resolution of disputes should mean lower fees to their tax advisers, as well as less anxiety. In many cases, Mr. Lutes said, the cost to the I.R.S. of resolving a problem will drop to pennies from tens of dollars.
The I.R.S. is testing a system called Electronic Account Resolution with a handful of tax professionals. Lawyers, accountants and enrolled agents – a kind of preparer who is authorized to represent taxpayers before the I.R.S. – will be able to use the system; they can go online now to register. But individuals and other paid preparers will not have access.