The Internal Revenue Service may be the federal agency everyone loves to hate, but a malnourished IRS can make us all poorer.
That’s the message from Nina E. Olson, the national taxpayer advocate at the IRS.
“Because of funding shortages, the IRS is unable to answer millions of taxpayer telephone calls or timely process letters, the tax gap (i.e., the amount of tax due but uncollected) stands at nearly $400 billion each year,” says the advocate’s 2012 annual report, which was recently released.
Olson said the IRS collected $241 trillion in fiscal year 2012 on a budget of $11.8 billion, for a return on investment of 214 to 1.
Yet, although the Obama administration requested $13.3 billion in fiscal 2012 for the IRS, Congress sliced that by almost $1.5 billion, an 11 percent cut, according to IRS figures. From the end of fiscal 2010 to the end of 2012, the number of employees dropped from 94,346 to 89,500.
Collen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents IRS employees, said, “Underfunding the IRS endangers our country’s border security, food safety, national defense and all of the vital government services we rely on.”
AFL-CIO gives award
The AFL-CIO has awarded its “At the River I Stand” award to American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. The presentation was made Jan. 20 at the AFL-CIO’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, this year in Philadelphia. The award is named in honor of Memphis sanitation workers, with whom King was working when he was assassinated in 1968.
“I truly believe that public service is the most powerful tool to bridge our gaps, heal wounds and lift up working families,” Cox said. “Further, the labor movement and civil rights movement must be one movement united to end discrimination in all forms.”
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.