Resource-strapped IRS urges lawmakers to get more funding

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On Thursday, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told a House panel that he is aware of the significant problems plaguing the agency and that they are largely due to long-standing funding and personnel issues. “We are forced to make difficult decisions about priorities, the types of enforcement measures we employ and the service we provide,” Rettig said.

“IRS employees want to do more to help taxpayers,” Rettig added. “We want to be able to answer the phones and answer questions. We want to be ready, whenever crisis strikes, to deliver rapid economic relief, as our employees have repeatedly demonstrated during the current pandemic, working long hours to implement crucial programs. During this difficult time, the IRS operated with an “all-in-one” approach, leaving nothing behind to consider improving overall service.

National Taxpayers’ Advocate Erin Collins told lawmakers the IRS was facing the same thorny issues it faced last tax season. “The biggest problems taxpayers faced last year – and continue to face this year – were delays in processing returns, delays in processing correspondence, difficulty reaching the IRS by telephone, and the inability to obtain information from the Where is my refund? and Where is my amended return? Tools”, she Explain. Collins added that since 2010, the IRS’ workforce has contracted by 17%, even though its overall workload, which is based on the number of tax returns, has increased by 19%.

In a recent interview on National Public RadioTreasury Department Assistant Secretary Wally Adeyemo shed light on the ongoing struggles at the agency, noting that “last year the IRS received 230 million phone calls and had just 15 000 people to answer these calls, which meant that each person had to answer 16,000 calls”. .”

President Joe Biden and most Democrats have pushed for a $80 billion investment over the next decade to rebuild the tax agency’s capabilities, but that House-approved effort stalled in the Senate. The Biden administration has also proposed increasing the IRS budget by more than 18% to $14.1 billion for fiscal year 2023. The increased funding would help offset a more than 15% drop in the agency budget over the past decade after accounting for inflation.

However, despite the budget and staffing shortages, the IRS has performed surprisingly well this tax season which ended on April 18. According to the latest data from the IRS Release, of the 103.3 million tax returns it received, it processed nearly 100 million. The agency also issued about 70 million tax refunds worth more than $222 billion. Broken down, the average refund is $3,175.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington State-based finance and technology editor who has held positions at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow him or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters

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