Koskinen Places Blame for Long IRS Wait Times on Congress

Staff Writer
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The head of the IRS has a message for taxpayers and tax preparers who have endured long wait times while on the phone with the tax agency: Call your member of Congress.

During his keynote speech at the 69th Annual Meeting of the National Society of Accountants (NSA) in Baltimore on August 21, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said the biggest challenge facing the IRS is trying to implement tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act while the agency’s budget for fiscal year 2014 was slashed by 7 percent.

“As I tell people on Capitol Hill, we are the only agency still operating at the post-sequester level,” Koskinen said, according to an article posted on the NSA website.

In her annual report to Congress earlier this year, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said budget reductions have significantly hampered the IRS’s ability to provide “top-quality service” and “maintain effective enforcement programs that minimize noncompliance.”

For example, only 61 percent of the more than 100 million customer service phone calls made to the IRS last year were answered, according to the report. Telephone wait times increased from 2.6 minutes a decade ago to 17.6 minutes in 2013.

During his speech on Thursday, Koskinen said his agency was forced to cut 5,200 call center employees because of budget cuts, and he warned that wait times for phone service will increase through the rest of the year because of a lack of staff.

“People don’t vote for me; they vote for members of Congress,” Koskinen stated. “Congress needs to hear and understand the impact of the funding cuts.”

The IRS chief also doesn’t understand why Congress would reduce funding for the federal government’s top revenue-generating function at a time when a revenue shortage continues to force budget cuts. Koskinen has noted in the past that the US government is losing billions in revenue collection to achieve budget savings of a few hundred million dollars. The IRS has estimated that for every $1 invested in the agency’s budget, it produces $4 in revenue.

“Congress is starving our revenue-generating operation,” he said on Thursday. “If voluntary compliance with the tax code drops by 1 percent, it costs the US government $30 billion per year. The IRS budget is only $11 billion per year.

“[Congress] cannot continue to reduce our resources and ask us to do more things,” Koskinen added. “The blind belief in Congress that they can continue to cut funding and we will just become more efficient is not the case. We are becoming more efficient, but there is a limit. Eventually the effects will show up. We are no longer going to pretend that cutting funding makes no difference.”

Related articles:

IRS Would Receive More Funding in Obama’s 2015 Budget
IRS to Taxpayers: Hang Up the Phone
NTEU Chief Colleen Kelley on Spending Bill: ‘True Investment’ in the IRS Needed


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Maybe if they stopped paying bonuses, they would be in better shape.

You have got to love this man.
Way ahead of that wimp who preceded him.
The Republicans are making a big mistake by cutting the IRS budget.
The tax cheats are rubbing their hands together in glee.
Bad move.

And here is some advice for you John. When you go testify in front of Congress, be more truthful, be more respectful and take your testimony seriously. If you seat in front of Republicans who control your agency's budget and then act in a smirching, cocky manner, your agency's budget is going to continue getting cut. And by the way, it is very well deserved! I have much more important things to call my Congressman about.

So the Congressmen cut budgets because a representative of the IRS acted in a manner that they did not like?? Very mature.
Hey, tax cheats, full speed ahead!!!

Peter, maybe you spend too much time in your pajamas blogging. So I'll remind you of what Koskinen - the representative from the IRS - was doing in front of Congress. He was supposedly testifying about illegal and criminal behavior carried on by one Lois Lerner amongst others thereby denying law abiding citizens their rights. Give me tax cheats 24/7 Peter. I'll take them any day of the week before I take people like Lois Lerner, et. al.

Maybe he could explain why the long lines and lack of service have occurred for the past decade, well before the cuts?

perhaps Congress is worried that money to be spent on RO's, field agents, collection agents, and call center employees will instead be wasted on lost lawsuits regarding preparers, trying to circumvent Loving, lying to Congress and trying to cover it up, and upper level nonrevenue collecting expensive management.........