The Internal Revenue Service says it has been forced to curtail enforcement against tax cheats, a fallout from five years of budget cuts.

But after the Federal Eye reported this week that a team of revenue officers in the Dallas area does not have the resources to go after taxpayers who owe less than $1 million — so it can focus on high-rolling delinquencies of $1 million or more — the IRS found itself in a predicament.

The agency does not want to give the public the impression that it is not even attempting to collect from cheaters unless they owe huge sums.

In fact, thousands of revenue officers across the country, and hundreds in Dallas, are still pursuing lower-dollar tax cheats. Just not as many of them as before.

Here’s a statement the IRS sent us late Wednesday:

“The IRS enforcement workforce has declined more than 5,000 positions since 2010, and that includes a reduction of revenue officers who collect money owed by taxpayers. Given these limitations, we must make difficult decisions on where and how to collect tax revenue based on the amount of taxes owed, available staffing resources and the best collection options available. This can vary by office and other factors.  There is no doubt that we have cut back on personal visits to those who owe money.  While the amount of money owed is significant factor in the workload that is assigned to our revenue officers, it’s inaccurate to suggest that we only pursue cases above $1 million and simply ignore collection in other cases.  We have a variety of collection tools available to collect tax debts; personal visits are just one of the options available.
The group manager interviewed in Dallas oversees a group of revenue officers that specialize in cases with a balance due of more than $1 million. It’s important to note that we have other collection groups that work other less complex cases that have balances due of less than $1 million. Regardless, it is clear with our diminished funding that we do not have enough staffing resources to reach all of the delinquent tax accounts.
It’s important to keep in mind last year these collection efforts recouped more than $33 billion in tax debts from taxpayers. That’s more than three times the IRS budget of $10.9 billion.”