A House subcommittee on Wednesday approved a bill that would cut the Internal Revenue Service’s budget by nearly one-quarter for fiscal 2014.
The measure would give the IRS $9 billion for fiscal 2014, representing a 24-percent reduction compared to the previous budget cycle and the lowest amount of funding for the agency since 2001.
A House Appropriations subcommittee approved the proposal with a party-line voice vote, moving the measure to the full committee for consideration on a date that is yet to be determined, according to the panel’s staff.
“This bill right-sizes federal agencies and programs that are simply not working efficiently or effectively,” said committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) in a statement before the vote.
Republican lawmakers have shown hostility toward the IRS since a pair of inspector general reports revealed this year that the agency had subjected conservative groups to inappropriate scrutiny and spent lavishly on a 2010 conference in Anaheim.
The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents many IRS and Treasury Department employees, criticized the GOP appropriations bill.
“The drastic cuts to IRS’s budget come at a time when the IRS work force is already facing a dramatically increased workload, with staffing levels down by more than 20 percent below what they were just 15 years ago,” said NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley.
IRS staffing has dropped from 114,000 in 1995 to 91,000 in 2012, according to the NTEU. Meanwhile, the number of tax returns has increased from 205 million to 236 million over that same period, the union said.
The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate in its 2012 report to Congress listed underfunding at the IRS as the third most serious problem facing taxpayers.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told lawmakers in May that every dollar appropriated to the IRS brings in $6 to federal coffers.
Obama’s 2014 budget proposal calls for a 9 percent increase in IRS spending, which would bring the agency’s appropriations to about $13 billion for the next fiscal year.
House GOP leaders announced this week that they would advance a series of proposals seemingly aimed at addressing the IRS controversies.
The measures would: allow agencies to place senior career officials on unpaid leave while they are under investigation for abuse; hold agency officials accountable for over-the-top spending on conferences; and prohibit the IRS from enforcing the insurance mandate from President Obama’s health-care law.
Republicans have also criticized the IRS for considering $70 million in bonuses for IRS officials this year.
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