OVERSIGHT: Ways and Means Puts Spotlight on IRS Spending Decisions, Harm to Taxpayers

April 22, 2015 — Blog   

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared today before the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee to testify on the 2015 tax-filing season. During the hearing, much of the focus was on a new committee report that takes a deep look into IRS budget decisions. The report, released this morning, outlines extensive evidence that the IRS has deliberately diverted its own funding away from taking care of its customers: taxpayers.

The report—entitled, “Doing Less with Less: The IRS’s Spending Decisions Harm Taxpayers”—shows that the IRS budgets cuts to customer service are clearly self-inflicted wounds.

The Washington Post summed it up well, saying the IRS prioritized “worker bonuses, union activity and the implementation of President Obama’s health care law over assisting taxpayers during tax season.”

John McCormack of The Weekly Standard elaborates on the cuts. He writes, “In addition to the $11 billion appropriated by Congress, the IRS takes in more than $400 million in user fees and may allocate that money as it sees fit. In 2014, the IRS allocated $183 million in user fees to its customer service budget, but allocated just $49 million in 2015—a 76 percent cut.”

The report also shows that implementing ObamaCare drains a significant amount of resources for the IRS budget. These are funds that could otherwise be used for customer service, like answering phone calls.

Even Commissioner Koskinen agrees. The Hill writes, “Koskinen said the decline in user fees for taxpayer services was instead spent to implement ObamaCare.”

The Associated Press echoes this point: “The IRS’ overloaded phone system hung up on more than 8 million taxpayers this filing season as the agency cut millions of dollars from taxpayer services to help pay to enforce President Barack Obama’s health law.”

The IRS has mismanaged its spending when it comes to other aspects of its budget as well. Fox News reports that the Ways and Means study shows that the IRS “cut customer services while continuing to hand out bonuses to employees, allowing staff to conduct union activities, failing to collect debt owed by employees of the federal government,”

As Chairman Ryan said upon release of today’s report, “The IRS has a lot to answer for, and the Ways and Means Committee is going to hold it accountable.”

SUBCOMMITTEE: Oversight