The latest spending bill cuts the IRS’s budget…again. You might hate the IRS, but they do need to pay people to do what the agency is there to do: administer the tax code that Congress enacts. Throughout the year, we’ve seen many TIGTA reports regarding fraudulent refunds and abused credits, but on the same hand the budget for ferreting out fraud has been cut. At the same time, the IRS has been tasked with reconciling the Affordable Care Act credits and issuing penalties for not having insurance, along with the myriad other bits of social engineering Congress keeps inserting into the tax code.
So although the commissioner has said the filing season will not be delayed, there’s been no date given for when filing can commence. He also stated that refunds could be delayed to the lack of personnel, and don’t expect to be able to call the IRS for answers; the general information line was shut down this year due to lack of staff. Hold times of up to two hours have been reported for the practitioner’s priority line during this very slow time of the year, and it definitely won’t get better once filing season opens.
So what does this mean? The IRS has been tasked to do more with less, and no matter what your politics, it means worse customer service. Don’t expect a quick refund if you are claiming any of the most easily abused refundable credits. If you are audited, don’t expect a quick resolution.
I’m just glad I have a landline speakerphone just for tax agency phone calls.