Wednesday, July 22, 2015

This is the dumbest expression of Republican anti-tax orthodoxy

By Stephen Stromberg July 22, WashPost

Congress has done some dumb things. One of the dumbest is the GOP’s penny-wise-pound-foolish campaign to defund the Internal Revenue Service. We now have official word about what its mindless tantrum against the IRS has produced for taxpayers: a tax season that was “by far the worst in memory,” according to the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an agency watchdog.

“The IRS’s performance in responding to taxpayer telephone calls this year was, as IRS Commissioner Koskinen has acknowledged, ‘abysmal.’ During the filing season, the IRS was only able to answer about 37 percent of the calls routed to telephone assistors, and those callers who managed to get through had to wait on hold an average about 23 minutes.”

Meanwhile, “The number of courtesy disconnects” — that is, hangups — “skyrocketed this filing season as compared with prior years, rising by more than 1,500 percent from about 544,000 in 2014 to about 8.8 million this year.”

Even when people got through, IRS customer service agents were allowed only to answer some basic tax questions, and they couldn’t say anything about tax law.

The report didn’t even touch on the massive amounts of money that the government will lose from degraded tax enforcement, which rewards tax cheats. Republicans warn about the United States emulating Greece, apparently ignoring the fact that lax tax-collecting has been a major driver of the fiscal problems there.

(More here.)

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