National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins released her annual report to Congress Wednesday, and it came with a blunt message: Years of funding cuts have made it difficult for the nation’s tax and revenue agency to do its work.
As required, the report identifies the 10 most serious issues experienced by taxpayers. The shrinking IRS budget and workforce were at the top of the list, with the advocate saying that, “Inadequate funding combined with weaknesses in hiring and retention strategies have created an insufficient and disproportionately aging workforce.” IRS funding was reduced by about 20% on an inflation-adjusted basis between 2010 and 2020, the report says, leaving the agency with a shrunken staff forced to work with outdated technology.
Most of the other top problems cited in the report are connected to the lack of sufficient funding and staffing. Taxpayers are waiting longer to speak to IRS representatives, if they get to speak to them at all, and online technology is “plagued by limited functionality.” Ancient computer systems “prevent taxpayers from obtaining full details about the status of their cases, and impede the IRS’s ability to select the best cases for compliance actions.” And the amended tax returns process generates “over a million calls that the IRS cannot answer,” resulting in unnecessary delays and confusion for taxpayers.