Two different news items came out today about the IRS, and as yet they haven’t been tied together. But if you think about it, they mesh perfectly.
The first one is the same disturbing-yet-true story we hear every year: “IRS Customer Service is horrible/pathetic/non-existent“. Yes, we know. And water is wet. Got it.
Actually, I wrote about this last year:
(from February, 2013) – “…more than 115 million people called the IRS for help; only 68 percent of those who wanted to speak with tax experts actually got through — and only after holding for an average of 17 minutes on phone lines. One million of the 10 million written inquiries mailed to the IRS last year also did not get a response…”
And apparently the story hasn’t changed much since then:
(via Fox News) – Have a question on your tax returns? Don’t ask the IRS.
As tax day looms, an annual watchdog report to Congress finds that the agency is falling short when it comes to answering Americans’ questions about the convoluted tax code. The National Taxpayer Advocate found only 61 percent of people seeking to speak with a customer service representative last year got through to anybody — leaving nearly 20 million calls unanswered.
The report largely blamed budget cuts, and lamented the impact the poor customer service is having on taxpayers.
Hmmm, so they can’t answer my phone call because of “budget cuts”, you say? Yet according to the congressional report referenced above, the IRS’ budget was cut a whopping …8%!!
I wonder: has any Private Sector business had to cut their budget by 8% in the last three years? Or maybe I should ask what private sector company HASN’T had to cut their budget by that amount (or more)?
An 8% reduction in funding can hardly be the primary reason that little more than half of IRS “customers” are receiving so much as a how-do-you-do. No, I’d wager that the answer lies less in the Internal Revenue Service being “underfunded”, and more with where their true focus is these days:
We’ve already documented plenty of examples where the IRS seems to have plenty of time (and the requisite staffing, to boot) to pursue activities other than the mundane task of “answering the phone”.
So, based on this newest revelation from the video above, it seems the IRS has a choice on their hands:
- either continue to target the current Administration’s ideological opponents, OR
- start trying to properly assist the country’s taxpayers when we have questions concerning our unbelievably complicated tax laws.
One more thing to keep in mind, however: last spring the IRS acting Commissioner Steven Miller referred to his agency’s intimidating Conservative groups as “Horrible Customer Service”, a turn-of-phrase which immediately gained entry into the Ridiculous Euphemism Hall Of Fame.
But it’s also why I’m guessing that, if the IRS still holds that view, no amount of complaining about actual “horrible customer service” is likely to bother them all that much.