Taxpayers picked up $49 million IRS conference tab over three years, including one that cost $4.1 million alone
2 IRS employees placed on leave for roles in costly conference

Can the IRS be saved?

Irs-building-WDCThe Internal Revenue Service's recent rash of troubles has me asking, with apologies to Ladies Home Journal, can this agency be saved?

The actual continuation of the IRS isn't really in doubt, despite some calls to dismantle it by demagoguing politicians. <cough, Texas' junior U.S. senator Ted Cruz, cough> There will always be a need for Uncle Sam to bring in money and there has to be an agency to do that job.

So the real question is can the IRS' reputation, or as the private sector would call it, the agency's brand, be saved?

That's a big job. The only folks who have any kind of affection for the IRS are likely to be employees. Even then, we all know that some workers don't really like their employer.

As for the rest of us, when the IRS is just doing it's job rather than tripping over itself time (mishandled Tea Party tax-exempt applications) after time (employee embezzlement charges) after time (excessive conference expenses), it's not popular.

We've all heard and/or repeated the laugh so you don't cry snide IRS acronym explanations: Incredibly Reduced Salary, Income Removal Service and Incomes Radically Slashed.

When you start with that kind of public perception, it's no surprise that Americans' attitudes about the IRS are off the chart in a totally negative way.

Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel this week told a House Appropriations subcommittee of his plans to get the agency back in better working order and regain taxpayer trust. But it's going to take longer than his temporary tenure to get the IRS back into minimal good graces with the American public.

If the agency were a private sector company, its board of directors might call in some crisis management experts or hire a public relations team for re-branding help.

That's not going to happen in this case, but some business and communications experts recently shared with Marketplace radio their thoughts on steps the IRS can take to get it's brand back on track.

What do you think? Is there anything the IRS can do get back in our good graces, or at least to get us to tolerate it? What do you suggest the IRS do to repair its image and services?


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