While I would agree with you in some circumstances, the IRS sometimes does very well. They were among the first, perhaps the first, major government
agency to make all publications available by faxback, and then online by PDF file. And then very shortly after that, they changed from "plain" PDF files to PDF fillable forms, so people could download, fill out on the computer, and submit all without paper or manual typing.
Sometimes they get it right.
The also have put a number of "decision trees" and aids online, i.e. listing in plain language the criteria that are used to determine whether a person is an employee or a contractor, which was a big gray area in the 90's. Anyone with a 10th grade education can use this stuff, and that includes their phone
Likewise there are gobs of good information about retirement
accounts online, and they also make it VERY clear how and when taxes
or penalties apply to them.
Yes, sometimes their documentation
on some subjects and situations can be totally obtuse. But for IRAs and determining what a "home" is? THey got that stuff straight long ago.
They also have a very clear policy about "Well I called the IRS and someone told me..." situations. If you bother to take the phone
rep's ID number (which they all provide without being asked) the IRS will take that into account, and if they decide that what you did was wrong, usually you will only owe the amount in error, with fines and penalties waived because it was THEIR rep who instructed you. Exactly the same way that they usually act when "your" CPA or EA makes the same kind of mistake.
Couple of years ago I had a question about IRA rollovers and some complications that weren't covered in their docs. The first rep gave me over to an IRA specialist, who gave me to another sub-specialist, who eventually walked me through a decision tree that she had, and she finished up by saying that IF all of those points applied, then the answer definitely was (whatever).
Of course you could also record
the call, that's simple enough.
Not that I'd confuse the IRS with the tooth fairy, but there are a lot of very competent folks there, and considering that the help is free, it is often well worth the price
of the call. If they sound at all uncertain (or if you call back on the next day and get a different answer) by all means ask a tax attorney. They spend all year reading up and then very often have to make the same judgment calls though.