Understaffed IRS Expected to Cut Back on Enforcement…and Help
Times are lean at the Internal Revenue Service, which has had its funding significantly reduced by Congress. The cutbacks are expected to result in fewer audits and less help available to taxpayers.
The IRS has seen its budget reduced by 17% over the last four years. The most recent cut amounted to $346 million. That will reportedly leave the agency at its lowest level of funding since 1998.
The funding reductions have forced the loss of 12,000 positions at the tax agency. Fewer workers will mean longer times on hold for Americans calling the IRS for help. One estimate said the IRS may be able to answer only 43% of the 100 million calls it is expected to receive this year. Those who do get through to an IRS official will first have to wait an average of 30 minutes on the phone.
The budget cut will also mean that taxpayers expecting a refund will have to wait an extra week or more to receive it.
Republicans in Congress have pointed to the IRS’s alleged targeting of non-profit groups as the reason for cutting the agency’s budget. However, they may be shooting themselves in the foot. Roughly half of the latest funding cut will lead to a reduction in the agency’s enforcement activities. That means fewer audits and collection efforts, which will result in an estimated loss of at least $2 billion to the government in fiscal year 2015.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
IRS Hits Filing Season Feeling Stretched Beyond Capacity (by Charles Clark, Government Executive)
Need Help From the I.R.S.? It May Take More Patience This Year (by Patricia Cohen, New York Times)
As IRS Budget Shrinks, Fewer than 1% of Charities are Audited (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)
IRS Audit Rate Dropping Lower and Lower (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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