What is the job of the IRS? It is to collect taxes to fund the work of the US government. Except depending on your viewpoint the job of the IRS could be something else entirely.

In 2009 the IRS spent 11.7 billion dollars to do its job and in 2017 the IRS had 76,832 employees. So perhaps the job of the IRS is to spend money or make jobs?

Once individual taxes get more complex than the 1040EZ form the paperwork becomes extremely difficult for the average person to understand and so TurboTax and the like are filling the gap. Perhaps the job of the IRS is to boost the tech industry?

If you manage a business taxes hurtle into the next level of complexity and you are almost forced to hire a tax accountant. Maybe we can say that the IRS invented a profession?

There are so many directions, requirements, and boxes to fill it takes most of us hours, even days to complete our taxes. So is the job of the IRS to provide US citizens entertainment every April?

At one time it must have been easier to file annual taxes but over time the bureaucracy has grown. Year after year, more layers of laws are added increasing the complexity. What taxpayers see today is a highly confusing, almost mystifying process for calculating what we owe.

There is one job that is not the job of the IRS and that is customer service. Directions are misleading, language is ambiguous, the process is arduous, and help is hard to find.

The IRS is not the only organization where bureaucracy lives. Bureaucracy can be found in for-profits, non-profits, churches, schools, and yes, even associations. The problem with bureaucracy is its inverse relationship with customer service.

Bureaucracy builds year by year, layer by layer at a slow steady pace that sometimes makes its proliferation invisible to us. But our members see it. They wonder about the 20 fields they have to fill out before they come to the conference. They are frustrated by the inability to get a return call. They wonder what comes next in the certification process.

If your association is more than 10 years old, look for all the hidden spots of bureaucracy to find opportunities to improve your association’s customer service.

Editor’s note: This article was first published on Amanda Kaiser’s blog: Smooth the Path

Amanda Kaiser is a qualitative member researcher. She has conducted 319 member interviews and counting. Through these interviews she helps associations understand their members’ goals, challenges, opinions, fears, and hopes. These insights become the building blocks of their member-focused vision and future-focused strategy, innovation and marketing plans. Amanda also writes a three-times weekly blog for association professionals. You can check it out and subscribe at SmoothThePath.net or follow her on Twitter @SmoothThePath.

Amanda Kaiser is a qualitative member researcher. She has conducted 319 member interviews and counting. Through these interviews she helps associations understand their members’ goals, challenges, opinions, fears, and hopes. These insights become the building blocks of their member-focused vision and future-focused strategy, innovation and marketing plans. Amanda also writes a three-times weekly blog for association professionals. You can check it out and subscribe at SmoothThePath.net or follow her on Twitter @SmoothThePath.

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