For years, various consultants and spinmeisters have been pushing the notion of “doing more with less.”
To be sure, organizations – especially large ones – are always in search of improved productivity and efficiency. At some point, however, constantly trying to do more with less may end up yielding less, not more.
Could that be true for the IRS? In this two-part post, we will examine that issue, focusing on calls by the National Taxpayer Advocate for more funding for the IRS.
A few months ago, in our September 20 post, we took note of this recurring – but not yet resolved – issue. In that post, we analogized the IRS to an underfunded Goliath.
But it isn’t only in doing battle with taxpayers, such as in tax litigation, that the IRS may be affected by its reduced budget. It is also hampered in its ability to deliver quality customer service to taxpayers.
In a tax system that is largely driven by voluntary compliance, that is a serious concern.
The Taxpayer Advocate has marshaled the data to document just how serious the slippage in customer service has become. Last year, the IRS responded to only a little over 60 percent of the taxpayer phone calls it received.
The response rate for written correspondence was even worse. That figure was only 47 percent.
Of course, the 16-day government shutdown in October had something to do with those figures. But the IRS’s budget woes go well beyond the shutdown. Since 2010, due to budget cuts by Congress, the agency’s head count for employees is down nearly 8,000.
In part two of this post, we will discuss some of the specific ways that these staff reductions are affecting taxpayers.
Source: CNNMoney, "How IRS drives taxpayers crazy," Jeanne Sahadi, Jan. 9, 2014