The IRS’ bonfire of incompetency gets bigger
Even as congressional Democrats want to give it more money and power to squeeze cash out of taxpayers, the IRS seems to have big problems keeping its own house in order.
As Americans for Tax Reform’s Isabelle Morales writes, the IRS:
…failed to screen two-thirds of agency contractors for tax delinquencies and other errors, according to a new TIGTA report. This serves as yet another example of the IRS’s inability to complete basic tasks, even when it is required of them.
And this is just the tip of the incompetency iceberg:
The agency has repeatedly failed to compile legally required tax complexity reports. These reports are supposed to contain the IRS’s specific recommendations on how to make the tax code easier to comply with. Since 1998, the IRS has done so just twice – in 2000 and 2002.
A TIGTA report on the 2021 Filing Season found that almost 40 percent of printers were not working at tax processing centers in Ogden, Utah and Kansas City, Missouri. However, in many cases the only thing wrong with the printers is that no employee had replaced the ink or emptied the waste cartridge container: “IRS employees stated that the only reason they could not use many of these devices is because they are out of ink or because the waste cartridge container is full.”
This year, despite having funding for new hires, the IRS only achieved 37 percent of their hiring goal. They had trouble onboarding new hires as well, as it was “difficult to find working copiers (as noted previously) to be able to prepare training packages.”
In 2016, the IRS has lost track of laptops containing sensitive taxpayer data. TIGTA estimates that the IRS had failed to properly document the return of 84.2 percent, or more than 1,000 computers due to be returned by contract employees.
A TIGTA report in 2017 showed that the IRS rehired more than 200 employees who were previously employed by the agency, but fired for previous conduct or performance issues.
Each year the IRS hangs up on millions of callers — a practice they refer to as “Courtesy Disconnects.” Currently, if you call the IRS, you have a 1-in-50 chance of reaching a human being.
According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2014 Annual Report to Congress the IRS was unable to justify spending decisions. As the report stated: “The IRS lacks a principled basis for making the difficult resource allocation decisions necessitated by today’s tight budget environment.”
The IRS has repeatedly failed to include required information on notices they send to taxpayers, thus eroding taxpayers’ ability to understand said notices, figure out the right office/number to correspond with, file appeals, etc.
The IRS is required by law to assign a single employee to each taxpayer’s case for mutually generated correspondence, and, in more cases than not, fails to do so.
The mountain of evidence from audits and investigations shows giving the IRS more money and power would be a catastrophically bad thing to do. The better course? Fundamental tax reform that makes the code simpler and fairer, while making the IRS either much smaller, or abolishing it entirely.