Friday, July 23, 2010

National Taxpayer Advocate's Mid-Year Report to Congress

The National Taxpayer Advocate is a sort of Ombudsman within the IRS. She is Nina E. Olson and has issued a mid-year report that is both refreshing and disturbing. (Carol brought it to my attention today.) It is refreshing because it speaks truth to power in a way that is reasonable and pursuasive (at least to me, a taxpayer). It is disturbing because it identifies harmful policy decisions, largely, I think, foisted on taxpayers and the IRS by Congress.

The link is not to the report itself but to an IRS news release that summarizes it. It is a good summary and worth reading. Here are some of the points the report makes:

1. That the IRS is spending less on taxpayer assistance and more on enforcement. The Taxpayer Advocate asserts that tax laws have become so complex that it is assistance that will build revenues and not the threat of punishment. Collection statistics appear to bear this out.

2. That the IRS is being asked to assume much of the responsibility for national health care, but the delivery of social services is not its core expertise.

3. That the program of increasing the 1099 requirements imposes an unreasonable burden on both the IRS and the taxpayer, a criticism that I have mentioned in previous posts.

It is interesting to me that the source of this problem is not the federal bureaucracy. The source of this problem is Congress, our elected representatives.

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