According to Law360
the chairwoman of the American Bar Association’s tax section on January 16, 2018 urged Congress to provide adequate funding for the IRS, cautioning that in light of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, P.L. 115-97, the agency will face difficulties effectively administering and collecting tax revenues without additional funds.
In a letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House subcommittees on financial services and general government, Karen Hawkins reiterated concerns that chronic Internal Revenue Service underfunding has caused taxpayers to lose trust in the nation’s tax authorities, reduced service quality, hampered recruitment and retention of experienced personnel, and stymied investment in modernizing taxpayer services.
“This erosion in confidence is reaching a point where it could become irreversible,” Hawkins warned. “In light of the daunting tasks of providing sufficient guidance and ensuring compliance with the new and complex tax legislation, we believe that the case for providing increased and adequate funding to enable the service to meet these challenges is compelling.”
While it is unclear whether Congress will act to increase IRS funding, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin assured attendees at an Economic Club of Washington, D.C., event on Jan. 12 that more IRS personnel would be hired to deal with implementation of tax reform.
“This touches every single aspect of the IRS,”
Mnuchin said of the bill's implementation.
“We are speaking with Congress about getting Additional Funding for the implementation so we would expect that we would Hire a Significant Number of People
to Help With the Implementation.”
The personnel issue is further exacerbated by the positions of commissioner and chief counsel being filled by acting personnel, Hawkins noted, asking Congress to work with the Trump administration to nominate and confirm individuals to those positions.
According to a National Taxpayer Advocate report published Jan. 10, the IRS has estimated it will need $495 million over the next two years to implement the new legislation, but it has lost more than $1 billion to budget cuts since 2010. A Republican-controlled Congress fuming over controversies surrounding the agency's treatment of conservative social-welfare groups has been unwilling to give the IRS the funding it says it needs to adequately serve taxpayers and guard the nation’s coffers.
The tide may be changing, however, in light of the advocate’s report. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, told reporters last week that while the IRS still has to prove why it needs more money, lawmakers should be open now to the idea of granting the agency’s requests for additional funding to implement the new law.
Hawkins made clear she was aware of the “budgetary challenges facing Congress,” and that “increased spending on the service may not be popular.” Nevertheless, she pointedly explained that without appropriate funding for the IRS, the government’s ability to function effectively is diminished.
“The Service has been required to operate for Too Long without adequate funding; its mission will be
Irreparably Compromised if this is Allowed to Continue,”
the letter concluded.
The letter was addressed to Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, and ranking member Christopher Coons, D-Del., as well as Chairman Tom Graves, R-Ga., and ranking member Mike Quigley, D-Ill., of the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.
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