Despite IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s warning of IRS Office Shutdowns, IRS computers are still operating 24/7 to check tax returns for errors and incomplete data, process refunds and identify returns that need to be scrutinized.
It’s impossible to imagine the Internal Revenue Service or most other number-crunching agencies or companies working without computers. But when the IRS went to computers in 1961 by unveiling the Automatic Data Processing system in Martinsburg, West Virginia there was an uproar. The public then envisioned a scenario in which erroneous notices forced people to overpay, or $100 million dollars in unwarranted refund checks were issued.
Now that 54 years have passed we all know the benefits of a computerized system: Computers speed up processing times, discover errors taxpayers make against themselves, and verify that all citizens pay a fair amount. It is through this resource that the IRS can more efficiently meet its functions in light of the 2015 IRS budget that was just cut $341 million by Congress.
Will the IRS budget cut paralyze the agency and allow taxpayers to slip through the system?
Now if you are still thinking that this latest move by Congress will paralyze the IRS, let’s put the amount of budget cut in perspective.
Since fiscal year 2010, Congress has cut IRS funding by almost $1.2 billion, or 10%, forcing the agency to severely reduce its full-time, permanent workforce by 13,000 employees. This occurred even as the country added approximately 7 million new taxpayers.
But let’s go back to 1995 – that’s almost 20 years ago. In 1995, the IRS had 114,064 workers to administer tax laws and process 205 million tax returns. By the end of 2013, staffing had fallen to 83,613 to administer a more complicated tax code and process 242 million tax returns and other forms. When I run these numbers I get 26% fewer IRS employees processing 20% more tax returns. Contrary to what Congress may think these statistics show the IRS doing an extraordinary job using its computers to keep up with the functions it is charged with.
Additionally, the IRS may be one of the smarter investments for Congress. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said last year that the IRS yields $6 in collections for every $1 it receives for tax enforcement. The agency is already working with a smaller budget than it had five years ago — $11.3 billion in 2014 compared to $11.5 billion in 2009.
So what’s another $341 million cut in funding?
The IRS still has $10.95 billion to work with in 2015. This will bring the agency’s budget below the sequester level and below the level that was in place in fiscal year 2008. This funding level was still sufficient even then for the IRS to perform its core duties, including taxpayer services and the proper collection of funds. So even if Commissioner Koskinen has his way and shuts down IRS offices for a few days in 2015, the IRS computers will still be at work checking tax returns for errors and incomplete data, processing refunds and identifying taxpayers to be audited, investigated, prosecuted, and levied.
Don’t Take The Chance And Lose Everything You Have Worked For.
Protect yourself. If you are in danger of wage garnishments or bank levies or having a tax lien placed against your property, stand up to the IRS and your State Tax Agency by getting representation. Tax problems are usually a serious matter and must be handled appropriately so it’s important to that you’ve hired the best lawyer for your particular situation. The tax attorneys at the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and elsewhere in California are highly skilled in handling tax matters and can effectively represent at all levels with the IRS and State Tax Agencies including criminal tax investigations and attempted prosecutions, undisclosed foreign bank accounts and other foreign assets, and unreported foreign income.
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