The IRS has always been a thorn in the side of hardworking Americans.
But in 2015 that thorn became more like a knife, which the IRS then twisted into their sides.
A new report about the IRS’ 2015 tax season said that the agency decided to cut money from their customer service department and ignored phone calls so they could slide the money over to Obamacare to keep it on track.
As a result, IRS employees ignored more than 30 million phone calls from desperate taxpayers seeking help in the run-up to the 2015 filing deadline — and those who did get through often waited an obscenely long time to have their questions answered by the agency.
Once the report surfaced, the IRS apologized publicly for their poor service, but also blamed Congress.
They said that lawmakers needed to ‘pony up’ more money if they wanted better results.
But Inspector General J. Russell George claimed the IRS cut its own funding by eliminating nearly $150 million dollars from customer service and slashing more than 2,000 staff positions.
Texas Republican and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said:
“The IRS is running out of excuses for its abysmal customer service record and poor management decisions. This new report is, even more, proof the IRS is failing the very people it was created to serve: American taxpayers.”
According to The Washington Times:
“Congress did add more money for the agency last year, and the IRS doubled the number of calls it was able to answer. The agency has promised to maintain that level of service this year.
But 2015 marked a low point for the IRS, which was battling a hostile Congress.
In the wake of the tea party targeting scandal, lawmakers trimmed funding for some areas of IRS operations — though they tried to keep the level of funds for customer support steady.
The IRS, however, wanted the money spent elsewhere, so it cut the funding from user fees that went to customer service and funneled it to operations.
Mr. George said taxpayer services received $185 million in user fees in 2013 — about 55 percent of all fees collected. By 2015, that had been cut to less than $40 million, or less than 10 percent of the fees collected.
IRS officials said the money was needed to help carry out the agency’s other duties, including enforcing the tax penalties in the Affordable Care Act, extending a health coverage tax credit and seeing through new laws on foreign income tax compliance.
The IRS also said it thought answering written correspondence was more important than answering phones, so it shifted employees’ focus.”
IRS commissioner, Debra Holland, disputed George’s assessment and said it was an “opinion made with the benefit of hindsight.”
She did, however, acknowledge the IRS siphoned money from customer support to fund basic operations, “A decision was made to allocate a greater amount of user fees to operations support than had been done in previous years, permitting us to provide basic taxpayer services, process tax returns and address other obligations of tax administration.”
The number of employees in taxpayer services was cut from 29,646 in 2013 to 27,476 by 2015, but each employee also handled fewer calls.
The inspector general said the average full-time employee answered nearly 3,900 calls in 2013 to 2,900 in 2015.
The IRS explained the drop by saying they began pushing taxpayers to use online services for easy issues, and the calls they did receive presented more complex problems that tended to take more time.
Just 38 percent of calls were answered in 2015, down from 61 percent in 2013 and 64 percent in 2014.
This is your tax dollars hard at work.