Hearing Focuses on IRS Performance
The assessment of challenges facing the agency are grim
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson gave a grim assessment of the problems facing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during a congressional hearing this week.
Unsurprisingly, Olson said the 35-day partial government shutdown that ended in late January “could not have come at a worse time for the IRS.”
The agency was already facing significant challenges in preparing for the first tax filing season after Congress overhauled the tax code when operations ground to a halt due to the shutdown. By the time the shutdown ended, the IRS had more than 5 million pieces of unprocessed mail; 80,000 responses to 2018 Earned Income Tax Credit audits to be addressed; and 87,000 amended returns to be processed.
Olson estimated it will take the IRS 12-18 months to catch up on its work, and that it’s too early to assess how the filing season is going this year but that taxpayer services have suffered. Some of the decline in taxpayer services is “budget-driven,” Olson said.
“I am very concerned that the IRS, after years of not having adequate funding for taxpayer service, that it is at a point that it is stretched so thin that things could go very badly wrong," Olson said.
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