Written by: Theodore M. David, Chair, Tax Law Committee

Current Items:                                                             

  1. IRS Field Trip? 
  2. Time’s Almost Up                                                                    

1. There are two things that all kids look forward to during the regular school year. The first, of course, is the snow day. You may be old enough to remember when they used a blast or two on the fire warning siren to let you know it was okay to roll over and stay in bed. These days, everything is connected to your phone or Alexa in every room of your house. Worse yet, in many school systems, the kids are never released to go out to play in the snow but are responsible for online work. I thought this technological revolution was supposed to result in us having fun and more time for it?

The kids seem to be surviving, and with climate change in these parts, there is a lot less snow anyway. If snow days are not in the cards, the next sweetest sound to a kid’s ears is a field trip. I remember one in particular in grade school. The bus pulled up, we piled on, and we ended up at Old Museum Village in Monroe, New York. Like all good field trips, a few parents were suckered into chaperoning us. On the bus, of course, we tossed spitballs and sang silly songs about the bus driver and cans of beer. But it was much better than being stuck in class. Old Museum Village may still be there. We wandered around in big groups, ducking under barriers when no one was looking and teasing the girls and making ourselves as annoying as possible.

At Rutgers in the 60s I recall we students being required to have a field trip incident to the study of New Jersey geology and geography. Once again, the buses pulled up, we piled on, we skipped the spitballs, and nobody sang any songs because most of us were half-asleep anyway. We piled out at the Sayreville clay pits and wandered aimlessly, listening to a professor or two tell us about how rivers deposit soil and become straight after meandering on a crooked path. Maybe there was a life message there, but I don’t think anybody got it.

In 2001, I published a textbook for lawyers and accountants called “Dealing with the Internal Revenue Service, Law, Forms and Practice. It was published by the ALI–ABA folks. It actually so sold pretty well and may still be out in cyberland. At about the same time, I was teaching tax practice and procedure at Fairleigh Dickinson University. I was practicing in the field and ate up all of the nuances of procedure that I had tucked away in my book’s 579 pages. My students, on the other hand, would often go blank. Now, admittedly, graduate MS tax students don’t often get a chance to go on field trips. But in order to spark some interest, I conjured up the idea from my Old Museum Village and Sayreville clay pits experiences. I contacted the appropriate authorities at the IRS Service Center in Holtsville, New York, with that catchy address of 1040 Waverley Ave. No buses this time, no spitballs and no songs. We caravanned out to Long Island in our own cars. It was a chance to see the IRS in action. The facility itself looked like a hanger for a large dirigible. Workers seemed to be shuffling papers everywhere, and scanners and copiers were going full force. We were taken as a group to the various intake and processing parts of the facility. I remember one device that adroitly tore open envelopes and removed checks. But our class had fun, and after we had enough tax talk, we got to dip our toes in the Long Island sound. It was a memorable experience for me and I think for my students as well. I don’t know if those tours are still available today, given the heightened security with regard to the government.

But I can assure you of one thing: these IRS processing centers are super busy. Tax returns are now processed all over the country, not just in Holtsville, New York. However, the recent annual IRS data book for 2023 gives you some idea of the magnitude of the problem. IRS processed more than 271 million tax returns and other forms, including more than 163 million individual income tax returns. They collected approximately $4.7 trillion, which amounts to 96% of the funding that supports the entire federal government’s operation. That includes everything from education to national defense. When they weren’t processing tax returns, IRS employees answered 27 million phone calls, and their 363 taxpayer assistance centers had more than 1.6 million contacts. They closed 582,000 tax return audits, resulting in $31.9 billion in additional tax. The IRS website had more than 880 million visits in 2023. If you or your kin are thinking of joining this madhouse, the IRS has plenty of jobs available since the IRA funding law gave the IRS a financial shot in the arm. Go to the IRS website at and hunt for careers. Some of them, like tax specialists, pay $190,000. You can leave it all behind if you desire and join up in Anchorage, Alaska, as one job posting shows. Maybe pan for gold in your off time, perhaps as a field trip.

2. If you are one of the several million taxpayers who have neglected to file a 2020 income tax return, recognize that as of May 17, 2024, any refund you were entitled to is going down the drain. File it or Lose it.

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