‘Devastating erosion’ of taxpayer services at IRS

News

U.S. Internal Revenue Servise building signage, Washington D.C.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK — Budget cuts at the IRS have resulted in “a devastating erosion” of services for Uncle Sam’s No. 1 benefactor: the U.S. taxpayer.

That’s according to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who on Wednesday delivered her annual report to Congress, which focuses on the most serious problems facing taxpayers and her recommendations for how to remedy them.

Record low level of taxpayer service: Olson, whose office was created by Congress to represent the interests of taxpayers, compiled a string of numbers to tell the tale.

The IRS is being asked to do much more than it has in the past with a budget that has been cut by 17% since 2010. Consequently it has had to reduce spending on employee training by 83% and has reduced its workforce by 12,000.

An additional 3,000 to 4,000 jobs are likely to be eliminated this year, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The agency gets 70% more phone calls and up to 18% more tax returns than it did a decade ago, and it’s now required to administer major parts of two complicated new laws: the Affordable Care Act and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

End result: the IRS is unlikely to answer even half the calls it receives and those callers who do get through will experience long waits, Olson said.

What’s more, the agency will only answer the most basic tax-law questions through April 15, but none after that. And it has reduced services at Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

“The IRS can operate more effectively and efficiently in certain areas. However, we do not see any substitute for sufficient personnel if high-quality taxpayer service is to be provided,” Olson wrote.

Lack of clear rationale for chosen cuts in taxpayer services: The IRS needs to do a better job prioritizing which services it cuts as a result of the budget reductions, Olson said.

“The IRS has come under scrutiny by external oversight organizations who have questioned the IRS’s rationale for its budget decisions. They have not been satisfied with the IRS’s response to their inquiries,” she wrote.

Difficulty appealing IRS decisions: In 12 states and Puerto Rico, taxpayers do not have convenient access to IRS officials to appeal an IRS decision in person.

While the IRS sends appeals officers to these areas every quarter, Olson said those cases often take much longer to resolve. And the only other alternative is for taxpayers to take their appeal to a field office far from their home.

By Jeanne Sahadi

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News