IRS Goes from Politically Compromised to Operationally Dysfunctional

The recent abuses of IRS powers by Obama political partisans operating within the agency have generated backlash from Republicans. In the $1.1 trillion budget bill passed at the last minute in December, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives punished the IRS with a 3% cut in its $11 billion budget. It was the only major agency to have its funding reduced.

IRS Vows Retaliation Against
Public for GOP Budget Cuts

Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen said the cuts will be “miserable.” Miserable! Don’t you feel sorry for the poor bureaucrats who will have to make do with a little less?

Well, don’t worry, because insolent IRS officials are threatening to take out their misery on taxpayers. Since the IRS commissioner doesn’t feel like cutting back on bureaucrat salaries or ammunition for special agents, he says the agency has no choice but to make the IRS even more difficult for taxpayers to reach by phone.

The IRS has never been known for its swift and helpful “customer service.” But starting this year, IRS taxpayer help is likely to get even worse.

“One of the first things that goes when money gets tight at the IRS is taxpayer service,” according to Politico. “Even before the new cuts, the IRS was predicting only 53 percent of taxpayers who call for help would get through to an IRS agent during the 2015 tax season after an average wait of 34 minutes…On the practitioner ‘priority’ hotline, a number tax preparers call for help with their clients, the average wait is expected to be 52 minutes.”

Past studies have found that more than 20% of the time IRS call centers give out incorrect information to taxpayers. The audit error rate is even worse. According to IRS watchdog Dan Pilla, “The IRS is wrong most of the time in the audit results it comes up with.”

Don’t Let Your Representative Shirk
His Responsibility on Taxes

IRS officials are wont to blame the agency’s poor track record on Congress. Aside from wanting more funding, they say that it’s Congress who writes and re-writes tax law, sometimes at the last minute. And there they have a point.

It’s not the IRS’s fault that the tax code is as complicated and voluminous as it is. Congress has the power to take a hatchet to the tax code and shrink it so that ordinary Americans can actually understand how to comply with it. Instead, Congress gives taxpayers (and IRS agents) the impossible task of comprehending the incomprehensible.

All Congress ever seems willing to do on taxes is tinker – new deductions here, new rules there – with the end result being even more pages of oppressive tax code. Voters who elected Republican majorities in the House and Senate should demand that their representatives deliver fundamental tax reform this time around. Anything that fails to shrink the tax code and lower rates for everyone isn’t real reform.

In the meantime, plan on getting your taxes done early this year. As the filing deadline approaches, IRS telephone support will become increasingly
unreachable and unreliable. Your tax preparer is also likely to get more stressed as the IRS becomes more dysfunctional.