Washington, D.C – Taxpayer services and other core functions of the Internal Revenue Service will continue to decline under the funding bill being considered today by a House Appropriations subcommittee, said National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) National President Tony Reardon.
In a letter sent today to members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Reardon argued against cutting an additional $149 million out of the IRS budget next year.
“Funding reductions in recent years have prevented millions of taxpayers from getting timely answers from IRS call centers and taxpayer assistance centers, and have significantly delayed IRS responses to taxpayer letters and other correspondence,” Reardon wrote.
The agency has lost nearly $1 billion and 18,000 full-time employees since 2010.
“Further reductions to the IRS budget simply cannot be absorbed without further jeopardizing the IRS’ ability to provide essential taxpayer services and enforce the nation’s tax laws,” Reardon wrote.
Just this week, the National Taxpayer Advocate warned that the inflation-adjusted 20 percent cut in the IRS budget over six years is making it harder for taxpayers to get the free help they deserve by eliminating walk-in service without an appointment and restricting the types of questions that can be handled by phone during filing season.
“The failure to meet the needs of taxpayers who rely on these services causes added stress for them and may reduce their willingness or ability to comply,” according to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s new report on the 2017 filing season.
Reardon reminded the lawmakers that taxpayers and businesses both rely on the IRS for tax assistance and that the funding bill’s cuts to business systems modernization efforts will undermine the IRS’ ability to combat identity theft and other types of refund fraud, adding to the impact on taxpayers caught up in these schemes.
The bill being marked up by the subcommittee today also includes threats to the nation’s independent bank regulators. NTEU objects to provisions that would subject the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the annual appropriations process in Congress, which would eliminate their independence and subject them to political influence.
“We believe any sudden change to their status or structure is not in the public interest,” Reardon wrote.
NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments.