O h really? What a surprise — considering all of the recent hoo-rah over IRS shenanigans and Congressional investigations. But that’s not the least of it, says the National Taxpayer Advocate in her recent mid-year report to Congress.
The main problem, says Advocate Nina Olson, is that the poor, starving Revenooers just don’t have enough shekels laying around to cover all of their duties. (Maybe if they hadn’t blown so much on line dancing, fancy vacations, and upcoming employee bonuses, the situation would be different — but we digress.)
Olson says the IRS’ mission has expanded (and continues to do so) without a corresponding increase in funding. Says Olson, “The real crisis is not the one generating headlines. The real crisis facing the IRS — and therefore taxpayers — is a radically transformed mission coupled with inadequate funding to accomplish that mission.”
She continues, noting that IRS has, over the years, increasingly become responsible for administering social benefits programs — e.g., the “second largest federal antipoverty program” (the earned income tax credit) — as well as retirement, education, and health care policies.
Considering that the IRS budget was cut 8 percent over three years, including an 83 percent training budget decrease, “to put it mildly, bad things will happen to taxpayers.”
And indeed they have.
Adding insult to injury, the Advocate notes that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (just like the Constitutional BOR) has taken a hit as well.
Her report recommends that Congress enact a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights that takes the dozens of existing taxpayer rights ensconced in the Internal Revenue Code already, and groups them into ten broad categories, modeled after the BOR in the Federal Constitution.
Sounds a little like form over substance to us.
And look for these issues to draw more attention from the Advocate in the coming year:
Relieving the financial harm suffered by victims of tax return preparer fraud.
Providing effective and timely relief to victims of identity theft.
Conducting education and outreach to taxpayers regarding their responsibilities under the “Affordable Care Act.”
Establishing less draconian and more reasonable (we’re all for that) settlement initiatives for all of the folks with legit reasons for holding foreign financial accounts, and whose failure to file reports re same was merely due to their sloppiness.
CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISER — This article contains general information about various tax matters. You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation. Jeff Quinn is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno. He may be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes.