In Uncategorized on 01/13/2012 at 17:10

This well-known lament comes not from the streets of Laredo, but from the Office of the National Taxpayer Advocate Nina (“The Big O”) Olson, in ONTA’s 2011 report to Congress. It’s on their website; you could look it up, as the late great C. D. Stengel was wont to say.

The Big O laments that Congress has starved IRS for funds; tweaked, tinkered, tortured and generally mucked IRC about so that IRS spends too much time explaining and generating forms and instructions, and trying to stop the fraudsters and gameplayers who are looking for the seams in IRS’ zone defense among these continual outbursts of unguided Congressional largesse. And not enough time talking to taxpayers. And too much time figuring out ways to make an audit not be an audit, so as to do end-runs around taxpayers’ rights.

IRS is trying to automate its way out of the dilemma of how to do more with less. But that means auto-rejects, one-size-fits-all letters, and errors multiply. I’ve commented more than once that form letters don’t solve problems, and ONTA agrees. So does Tax Court; see my blogpost “You’ve Got to Be More Specific”, 4/19/11.

The Big O has it right: Congress gets $200 for every $1 it gives the IRS. The “phantom economy” is the fastest-growing segment of the economy. Honest taxpayers are paying an extra $2700 per year per head to cover the revenue lost to the fraudsters and the off-the-bookies.

And we, who have to advise taxpayers, and deal with a broken and demoralized IRS, should be speaking up. Congress, ya gotta spend some money to make some money. You can’t spend trillions you haven’t got, or have borrowed without any sensible plan to pay those trillions back. And to get those trillions, you need  a tax system that lets the taxpayer who actually pays what he or she owes, know she or he isn’t some kind of fool. Give IRS the tools and let them do the job.

Oh yeah, and while you’re at it, Congress, how about a new Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, one that has teeth in it? And a Taxpayers’ Bill of Responsibilities, too.


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