Let's face it, the IRS/Treasury forms can be the pits.They can be confusing and too often the instructions just make it worse. The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) tries to simplify the forms by requesting public comment of the forms. But they let you know through the Federal Register, not on most taxpayer's reading list. Needless to say, the response has been "ineffective"(Treasury's word.)
A pilot program has begun to use a web site to solicit form feedback from the public; PRAcomment.gov. This is not a typical survey. It requests short answers to a few questions. Currently:
- Duplication-does this form request info already supplied to another fed agency.
- Burden reduction - How can the time needed to complete the return be reduced.
- Accuracy - how are the IRS estimates for collection, reading instructions and completing the form? And what costs did you have to collect and do the form.
- Necessity - is the info requested necessary?
- General -comments on topics not requested above.
- Further Opportunities - what other forms should be targeted?
- Collaboration - how did this tool work and how can it be improved?
Right now the site is in testing phase and is set up only for Form 1023, the application for Tax Exempt Status. While this isn't a well known form, it is a good one to try to reduce. The form itself is 28 pages and the instructions are 38 pages. The IRS estimates it will take the organization 96 hours to collect info required and complete the return. Form 1023 will come up for review in January 2011 and Treasury plans on directing comments to the site. But the web site is open now. So, if you've completed Form 1023 recently you might think about sharing you feelings with the IRS.
Treasury's intention is to use feedback from Form 1023 users to tweek the site and add forms available for review and comment.