Articles

Spending Bill Leaves IRS Out in the Cold:

In Accounting & Finances, Business, Taxes on April 20, 2015 by Sufen Wang

nothiringHiring Freeze and Unanswered Tax Phone Calls Expected


Last March 2014 the IRS reminded taxpayers to make the most of its online services as a way of avoiding backed-up telephone lines. That advice is even more pertinent this filing season in light of the agency’s warning that half the phone calls it receives about taxes won’t be answered.

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worried-about-a-bill-clip-art_t580This major setback stems directly from a spending bill signed into law on Dec. 16, 2014, which allotted the IRS only $10.9 billion for the fiscal year. That’s actually 3 percent less than last year, when telephone response times were already slower than a herd of snails traveling through peanut butter. It’s also 12 percent less than what the administration requested. Taking inflation into account, the IRS will basically have as much money as it did in 1998 – a year when it processed 30 million fewer returns, the cost of postage stamps was 32 cents, Friends was still on-air, and President Bill Clinton was Time‘s Man of the Year.

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Ironically, the spending bill directs the IRS to improve telephone services, and also allows funding for toll-free help lines. It might be tough (ahem, impossible) to accomplish those goals considering the reduction in operation funds. And unanswered calls are just the tip of the iceberg: the IRS will also have to freeze hiring and stop overtime pay as a result of the bill.

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timemoneyIt’s certainly going to be a long winter at the IRS. Commissioner John Koskinen explained that, “We have found substantial efficiencies in recent years, but there is little left to cut without hitting our core service and enforcement operations. This year we will have little choice but to do less with less.” In fact, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said that overall IRS spending has been cut by about 20 percent since 2010, with taxpayer services getting dinged 14 percent since then.

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irsscrabbleThis time around, the IRS will have $2.16 billion for taxpayer services, $4.86 billion for enforcement, and $3.64 billion for operations support, among a few other budget allocations. Knowing all this, taxpayers should head online or plan ahead and start calling the Internal Revenue Service ASAP to beat the filing rush hour in April. Or they can always call their friendly local accountant to have their tax questions answered.

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Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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