Significant cuts to the IRS’s budget over the years combined with the need to implement the 2017 tax law have stretched the IRS critically thin, according to National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson.
Olson released her mandated mid-year report to Congress last week that included a review of the 2018 filing season and a list of priority areas for the agency in the next fiscal year.
The most significant challenge facing the IRS is implementing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted at the end of last year, Olson said. The sweeping tax law requires writing or revising some 450 forms and publications and issuing guidance on dozens of provisions in the law. “I have no doubt the IRS will deliver what it has been asked to do but…it’s a very heavy lift,” Olson said.
Olson’s report goes on to detail the IRS’s customer service challenges and need to modernize its aging information technology infrastructure. The report points out that the agency’s funding has been reduced by 20 percent since fiscal 2010 on an inflation-adjusted basis.
“Because of these reductions, the IRS doesn’t have enough employees to provide basic taxpayer service,” Olson said. “The compliance and enforcement side of the house has been cut by even more. So in addition to answering the fewest number of taxpayers calls in recent memory, the IRS also has the lowest individual audit rate in memory and its collection actions are way down.”