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IRS needs to face budget realities

Taxpayers were not given good service by the government tax agency this year, officials admit. Advocates for the Internal Revenue Service blame – you guessed it – budget cuts.

But Congress did not cut IRS spending for the current year. According to the agency itself, it had $11.97 billion to spend for fiscal 2015 – more than $250 million more than during the previous year.

Nevertheless, taxpayers trying to get help from the IRS were frustrated frequently. Just 37 percent of people who called the agency for help were able to get through to a person. The system was so overloaded it automatically hung up on 8.8 million callers – compared to 544,000 last year.

Various factors have made it more difficult for the agency – and for millions of taxpayers – to deal with income taxes. The Affordable Care Act and identity theft are the chief culprits.

IRS management decisions did not help. This year the agency had the equivalent of 82,203 full-time employees. That was down 2,556 from FY 2014 – again, during a year when the tax service’s budget was not cut.

Like so many in government, the IRS is doing less with more.

Agency officials and President Barack Obama want more money for the IRS. Much is being made of a proposal by Republicans to provide less than requested. That could cripple the agency, it has been argued.

Really?

The GOP proposal is for just $73 million less than what Obama wants. That is 0.6 percent of the current-year budget.

Because of the government, including the ACA, many Americans have had to trim our own household budgets – often by more than 0.6 percent.

Perhaps the IRS should learn to deal with the pain, too.

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