In this essay, Professor Book reveals how the gulf between perceptions and reality in tax collection determinations. For example, the essay faults the modern IRS practice of over-emphasizing centralized decision-making, with its belief that almost all collection policies should be categorized as inventory management. The essay suggests how that approach contributes to (i) risk of erroneous government actions and (ii) decreased taxpayer satisfaction with IRS decisions. Mindful, however, that collection determinations involve millions of agency decisions, many of which do not benefit from additional adversarial procedural protections, the essay suggests that policy makers should calibrate procedural protections by balancing various factors, including the private interest at stake, the risk of depriving that interest through the procedures used, as well as the probable value of additional safeguards, and the government's interest.
The essay also critiques the recent Tax Court case of Robinette v. Commissioner, and the Tax Court's application of the abuse of discretion standard to tax collection determinations. Arguing that allowing parties to introduce evidence in judicial appeals of collection determinations is inconsistent with administrative law jurisprudence, the essay reveals that Robinette ultimately places taxpayer interests at risk by deemphasizing systemic incentives. Robinette provides cover for a judicial usurping of agency functions, which may provide the means to correct for error in individual cases, but will not create additional judicial pressure to improve agency practice. The essay suggests that as a matter of policy and law, the Tax Court should identify CDP cases involving collection determinations as informal adjudications, subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/leslie_book/4/