Fewer IRS Audits Again This Year

By:  Bob Adelmann
Fewer IRS Audits Again This Year

The IRS agency's lack of personnel and funding to collect the taxes owed is more than offset by taxpayers' sighs of relief.

The whining from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen began almost from the day he was sworn in as the latest head of the dreaded agency back in December: not enough funding, not enough agents, not enough audits, too many responsibilities, nobody cares — dang. Last year the IRS audited less than one percent of all returns from individuals, the lowest rate since 2005. Koskinen lamented that this year “the numbers will go down [even further].”

Koskinen said that if he only had more funding, he could squeeze more from the taxpayer — much more. President Obama’s budget proposal is asking Congress for an increase in IRS funding by $2 billion, noting that it would result in at least six times that much in additional revenues flowing to the U.S. Treasury. Instead, says Koskinen, Congress is deaf to his pleadings:

I say that and everybody shrugs and goes on about their business.

I have not figured out either philosophically or psychologically why nobody [in Congress] seems to care whether we collect the revenue [we are owed] or not.

It’s hard to be sympathetic for the head of what a majority of citizens consider the most feared agency of the federal government — an agency with a budget of more than $11 billion and some 90,000 agents collecting more than $2.4 trillion from more than 234 million tax returns. Despite all that, however, Koskinen still feels inadequate to the task:

We keep going after the people who look like the worst of the bad guys. But there are going to be some people who we should catch, either in terms of collecting the revenue from them, or prosecuting them, that we’re not going to catch.

It’s rough for the head of the agency that has been handed additional enforcement duties thanks to ObamaCare, while having his budget cut by nearly seven percent last year. But in an election year, another $2 billion is going to be one tough sell. As Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), the head of the House subcommittee that oversees the IRS, put it, Obama’s request is “both meaningless and pointless.”

In addition, more and more IRS field agents are being transferred to identity theft cases, leaving fewer to harass the taxpayer. As a result, of the 1.4 million audits performed last year, more than a million were “correspondence” audits, done by mail instead of through face-to-face interrogations.

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