Washington D.C. – A strong new coalition within Congress, citing concerns about taxpayer assistance and filing season delays, is advocating for immediate and long-term investments to rebuild the IRS.
In letters to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, members of the House and Senate outline some of the damage done to the IRS by a decade of budget cuts and pledge their support to reverse course.
“We urge you to do everything you can to alleviate challenges for tax filers this year, especially lower-income Americans, while also continuing to work with Congress to make long-overdue investments in the IRS, through FY 2022 and 2023 appropriations, the Build Back Better Act, or other avenues,” the members wrote.
Led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Judy Chu of California, the letters sound the alarm about how an underfunded and understaffed IRS can negatively affect the quality of services provided to taxpayers and weaken overall enforcement of the tax code.
NTEU National President Tony Reardon welcomed the support from Capitol Hill for IRS employees and the taxpayers they serve.
“The IRS workforce knows first-hand the importance of running a smooth tax filing season, helping honest taxpayers comply with the code and catching the cheaters, and they are as frustrated as everyone else when they don’t have the tools they need to accomplish those missions,” Reardon said. “We commend those in Congress who recognize that increasing the IRS workload while slashing staff is not a sustainable path and are willing to stand up and fight for the resources needed.”
Since 2010, the agency’s budget is down 22 percent after adjusting inflation, staffing levels dropped 22 percent and the number of tax filers has grown by 14 percent.
“The IRS is being forced to do more with less every single year, processing more returns, sending out more refunds, answering more phone calls, and updating antiquated IT systems,” the senators and representatives wrote.
President Biden’s Build Back Better proposal includes $80 billion for the IRS over 10 years, divided between customer service, enforcement, operations and modernization. The administration also proposed a 14 percent increase in agency funding in its FY 2022 budget request, which is still pending in Congress. The lawmakers are asking the administration to pursue at least as much in its FY 2023 budget request.
“The IRS is a critical pillar of the U.S. government and the American economy, collecting revenue that lets the government function and providing services and benefits to hundreds of millions of Americans,” the letters state.
NTEU represents about 150,000 employees in 34 federal agencies and departments.