IRS Sorry State Of Affairs

In her mid-year report to Congress, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson came up with a real tear-jerker, noting that “With funding down about 17 percent on an inflation-adjusted basis since FY 2010, and with the IRS having had to implement large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) this year without any supplemental funding, sharp declines in taxpayer service were inevitable.”

Sniff, sniff.

F’rinstance, notes the Advocate, the IRS answered only 37 percent of taxpayer calls routed to customer service representatives overall, and the hold time for taxpayers who got through averaged 23 minutes.  This level of “service” represents a sharp drop-off from the 2014 filing season, when IRS answered 71 percent of its calls and hold times averaged about 14 minutes.

Indeed, we have virtually given up in any efforts to call these blokes by telephone.  Talk about a complete waste of time!

The Advocate’s report attributes the decline in taxpayer service levels to the reduction in IRS funding and reiterates the Advocate’s longstanding view that the IRS requires additional funding to meet taxpayer service needs.  Olson, though, does note that “temporary periods of limited funding can have the salutary effect of causing an organization to rethink its mission and allocate its resources more effectively.”

Really.  Isn’t that how most “normal” businesses work when times get tough?  Why do we have to keep hearing the endless whining about how much is expected of IRS and how little are their resources?

The report says the IRS develops policies largely around the relatively small portion of the taxpayer population that is unwilling to comply with the tax laws.  “This focus has all sorts of consequences for the vast majority of taxpayers who are willing to comply, not the least of which is that they bear an increased burden in navigating processes designed for evaders,” quoth Olson.  “That is unwise, counterproductive and expensive.”  She urges IRS to develop its long-term plans to place primary emphasis on “meeting the needs of the overwhelming majority of taxpayers who are trying to comply with the tax laws.”

What a novel concept.

And now that you’re already looking forward to the next filing season, take joy in the notion that you will have a few extra days – to April 18, 2016 by which to file.  Friday, April 15, you see, will be “Emancipation Day,” a legal holiday in D.C.  Thus you get more time, you lucky taxpayer.

Consider yourself emancipated.

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He can be reached at 831-7288, and welcomes comments at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com.

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