A new staff report by Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee criticized the agency’s spending priorities. The report said the IRS diverted $134 million in user fees that had been spent on customer service last year to other areas this year.
“It looks to me like you’re purposely harming taxpayers,” Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota told Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday [Stephen Ohlemacher, “Hello? Hello? 8 Million Calls to IRS Went Unanswered as Money Cut from Taxpayer Services,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2015.04.22].
Now, Kristi, we’ve had this conversation. The IRS has had to divert resources from tax collection and customer service because of the budget cuts that you, Senator Thune, and the GOP have forced onto the IRS in your vindictive determination to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Commissioner Koskinen is just trying to follow the law and do his job with the scraps you throw his way:
“Customer service, both on the phone and in person has been far worse than anyone would want,” Koskinen told the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. “It’s simply a matter of not having enough people to answer the phones and provide service at our walk-in sites as a result of cuts to our budget.”
Republicans in Congress adamantly oppose Obama’s health law, so some have been working to starve the IRS of funds just as its role in implementing the law ramps up.
It won’t work, Koskinen said. The IRS is required by law to help implement the health program and the foreign reporting law, leaving the agency with few other places to cut. He said the agency requested a total of $600 million over the past two years for computer upgrades to deal with the new laws.
“In both years the Congress gave us zero dollars so we had no choice but to look elsewhere,” Koskinen said. “We funded the statute that we are required to implement” [Ohlemacher, 2015.04.22].
Instead of scolding the IRS for making the best of a situation you’ve made harder, maybe you should recognize that you’re the one purposely making life harder for taxpayers and tax collectors. Why not take a memo from Commissioner Koskinen and simply try doing your job?
By the way, you are flying back from Washington this weekend, right, Kristi? On our dime?