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Andy the Actuary

Professionalism

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It's understandable how the frustration can mount over dealing with government agencies. (It does for me.) There is no doubt that government professionals may be experiencing similar frustrations when dealing with practitioners.



The GP are people trying to do a job that many of us wouldn't want. More likely than not their personsal opinions sometimes differ from how their job description demands they must opine. You can be assured that their eyes are not totally blind to our comments on these boards. They bleed if cut.



These boards are generously peppered with criticism, direct and indirect slurs, and inuendo regarding the integrity and honesty of the agencies with which we must work. This furthers no one's cause and does not foster a working relationship.



This is not to suggest that if you have a bad experience that you are urged to bury your head in the sand; rather, there are professional and unprofessional ways to express your disappointment, discomfort, and even your disgust.



I may have violated my own preaching in the past and if so, shame on me (and I apologize). However, if so, this makes my suggestion of acting professional no less meaningful.


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FWIW my experience with IRS auditors and DOL people have been really quite good. And sometimes I felt sorry for them enforcing rules they obviously thought were bad in the details.

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I agree in principle with your comments, but I must tell you, as one who has at any given point in time 15 or 20 matters pending before GP (determination letter requests, VCP, audits, etc.), I can only say that 1) the UTTER LACK OF CONSITENCY between agents is at least annoying, and at most an indication of the absence of training and common sense; and 2) the often irrational positions they take is time consuming (and therefore costly) and serves no useful purpose.

With respect to the latter, we are currently dealing with an agent who wants us to "prove" that an amendment was timely signed by the client (the amendment was produced by a well renowned document service provider but did not include a date on the amendment - as part of the design of the software - which was contained in a consent action). We've provided the Consent action (properly dated), an affidavit of the individual who actually signed the amendment, minutes of the meeting (kept in the ordinary course of business) that show when the amendment was presented, discussed, and authorized, and a handful of other ancillary materials to show the timely adoption (including the receipt in our office of the signed document, and the "time stamp" of when it was scanned into our systems).

Not good enough. He also refuses to tell us what would be good enough - except to admit that there is no "legal" requirement for the date to actually be on an amendment. He even admits that what we have provided would be more than enough "evidence" in a court of law - but it isn't sufficient for him. My client is now in a "Catch 22" and is under the gun as a non-amender for which the penalties will be thousands for a small company trying to do the right thing (and who actually did sign the document timely). Bye Bye another retirement plan, if not another employer entirely.

This is more the rule than the exception in my world. We routinely provide Agent A with copies of things acceptable to Agent B for an issue, only to have Agent A say "too bad, so sad, I want more." The WASTE of time to me and my colleagues (and our employer and clients) is ASTOUNDING.

Perhaps the IRS should establish a task force with people like us to identify the issues and resolve them. Consistency and common sense are key - and my experience is that it is totally lacking.

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Points well taken, although I must say I don't, offhand, recall ever seeing much if any comment alleging lack of integrity or honesty. I think that is pretty much a non-issue. Comments are more in the way impugning the general attitude of the agencies or some people (always courteous, but often uncooperative), and the lack of competence of some individuals.

Anyone who has been in this business for a while will have horror stories to tell. While these are by no means the rule, neither are they a rarity. I think the frustrating thing is the feeling that once a "problem" occurs with an individual auditor/examiner/whatever, it is like putting toothpaste back into the tube, or nailing Jello to a tree. Being human, we tend to focus on the bad experiences rather than the majority of situations where they are reasonable.

Anyway, I always agree that professionalism is the way to go, so your points are well made.

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Guest gregor_12

Agree, this is not a comment regarding integrity and honesty but rather competency and cooperative which I believed that is what matter most. Likewise, I guess all points are being told here so I don't have to go further.

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