Dr. Boozman's Check-up
ICYMI: More money will not help the IRS
Agency is making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars
Jun 03 2015
Senator John Boozman authored this piece published here in USA Today, June 3, 2015.
Americans expect a tax agency to protect their personal information, provide good customer service and be accountable and fair. The priorities of the IRS do not reflect the demands of hardworking taxpayers.
Every agency in Washington has been asked to do more with less. The IRS is no different. By making irresponsible decisions with taxpayer dollars, the IRS is failing to adapt to today's fiscal realities.
One of the agency's first actions after receiving its funding for this fiscal year was to announce it would pay out more than $60 million in bonuses to employees.
As an April report by the House Ways and Means Committee shows, the agency paid the same amount in bonuses as the previous fiscal year despite a cut in the agency's budget.
In an email to IRS employees this year, Commissioner John Koskinen touted his ability to prevent a shutdown. But by also handing out hefty bonuses to employees, he misdirected resources meant for taxpayer services while protecting the priorities of the IRS union.
With flexibility in how it allocates its funding, the agency's top priority should be taxpayer services, particularly protecting the personal information of millions of American taxpayers.
Unfortunately, taxpayer service is the agency's most serious failure. The agency's focus clearly is elsewhere. Even before the latest tax season, Commissioner Koskinen estimated that only 50% of taxpayer phone calls would be answered; those still on the line would face wait times of at least 30 minutes.
This disconnect, along with the agency's abusive policing of political speech and its misconduct with deleted and missing emails, gives the IRS a black eye and makes me question its priorities.
The agency suffers from an erosion of taxpayers' trust because its actions undermine their faith in the system.
More money won't help it regain Americans' trust. Only proving that its priorities are in the right place will accomplish that. IRS doesn't need more money to make that happen; it needs a change in culture.
Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service.