CONGRESS COULD INVEST YOUR TAX DOLLARS AND RECEIVE A 300:1 RETURN, BUT INSTEAD CHOOSE BOONDOGGLES
Nina Olson, IRS Tax Advocate Watch Dog, Issues Annual Report to Congress Suggesting Improvements at the IRS to Help Taxpayers
Taxpayers and tax professionals who communicate with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) realize that the experience can be very frustrating. The IRS sometimes appears to be a very slow-moving bureaucracy (except when it comes to collecting back taxes).
Congress continues to cut the IRS budget resulting in IRS staff reductions and service center and field office closings. These actions make it more difficult for taxpayers to have their tax problems resolved. Waiting times when calling the IRS for assistance have significantly increased. Taxpayers no longer have the luxury of walking into a nearby IRS office (without an appointment) to have their tax questions answered.
And while the IRS is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, the real problem is Congress for its failure to properly fund the IRS.
The IRS is now being told by Congress, and rightfully so, to make better use of information technology to become more efficient to handle its workload. The immediate problem with that strategic plan is that the IRS computers are obsolete and need to be replaced and reprogrammed. The IRS needs to modernize its computer systems and that takes money!
When we look at our household budgets, we spend our dollars where we get the biggest bang on the dollar. One can only wonder why Congress does not do the same.
For its fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, the IRS collected nearly $3.5 trillion on a budget of $11.43 billion — a return on investment of about 300:1. Congress, showing its infinite wisdom, reduced its funding for IRS technology upgrades by 62 percent from FY 2017 ($290 million) to FY 2018 ($110 million) and constituted just one percent of the agency’s overall appropriation in FY 2018.
Nina Olson, the IRS watchdog who heads The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) which is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights, has recommended that additional funding be provided to the IRS . . . subject to accountability measures. The accountability measures are deemed necessary due to the IRS’s historical record of not effectively planning and executing technology upgrades. Specifically, Olson recommends that Congress provide the IRS with additional dedicated, multi-year funding to replace its core IT systems pursuant to a plan that sets forth specific goals and metrics and is evaluated annually by an independent third party.
With an investment return of 300:1, the reluctance of Congress not to upgrade IRS technology abilities is bewildering.
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About F. Bryan Haarlander, EA, CTRS:
Bryan Haarlander is an IRS licensed Enrolled Agent and who owns and operates a specialized tax services firm serving clients in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, which includes the cities of Chester Springs, Coatesville, Collegeville, Devon, Downingtown, Exton, Frazer, King of Prussia, Paoli, Philadelphia, Phoenixville, Pottstown, Radnor, Reading, Wayne, West Chester in Berks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties, as well as clients in Delaware, New Jersey, New York and throughout the continental USA.
A Certified Tax Resolution Specialist, Bryan is well-known for his IRS tax resolution expertise and his book How to Resolve Your IRS Tax Debt Problems.