IRS Commissioner Sees Budget Cuts Hurting Practitioners, Warns of Delayed Tax Season

Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen told a group of tax practitioners that budget cuts at the agency are harming not only taxpayers, but tax practitioners as well, and warned that unless Congress acts on tax extenders legislation, tax season might need to be delayed next year. At the same conference, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson complained of declining taxpayer service levels by the IRS and obstructions to the work of her office on behalf of taxpayers. “The IRS is now at its lowest level of funding since 2008,” Koskinen said during a speech Tuesday at the American Institute of CPAs’ National Tax Conference in Washington, D.C. “But if you adjust for inflation, our budget is now comparable to where we were in 1998.” He admitted that the level of service the IRS was able to provide, both on the phone and in person, was far worse than anyone would want. “Taxpayers who called the IRS had long wait times on the phones,” said Koskinen. “On bad days, fewer than 40 percent of calls were able to reach a live assistor, and that was after a 30-minute wait or longer. And taxpayers who needed in–person help at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers often waited in very long lines just to get in the door.” Koskinen acknowledged the problems did not end with the tax-filing season. Callers have continued to experience long wait times on the phones, and the IRS is still getting reports of long lines at Taxpayer Assistance Centers in some locations. The problems have also been experienced by tax practitioners trying to help their clients comply with their tax obligations. “This unacceptable level of service is a problem for practitioners as well, especially as it relates to the Practitioner Priority Line,” said Koskinen. “The waits for practitioners on this line have rivaled those for the regular taxpayer help lines. Of course, this is unacceptable to all of us. Tax practitioners interact with the IRS every day, and you need our assistance and expertise to properly represent your clients and help them fulfill their tax obligations.” Source: