The Republican Plan to Cripple the IRS

Internal Revenue Service

Imagine a world where there were not enough IRS agents to threaten your livelihood by pouring over years of receipts and tax filings. With the Republican takeover of the Senate, the Republican-controlled Congress is looking to severely de-fund the IRS in the wake of the ongoing scandal that revealed the organization targeted conservative organizations and held up nonprofit status approval.

POLITICO would have you believe that’s a bad thing:

Confused taxpayers, jammed help lines and tax cheaters running rampant — the IRS for months has warned that drastic budget cuts will disable an already troubled agency.

Republicans aren’t buying it.

Instead, they’re biding their time until they seize control of both chambers next year, giving them majorities to financially gut the most hated government agencies and new leverage to get agencies to do what they want.

A top priority? Crippling IRS regulatory actions, from Obamacare’s individual mandate to the looming draft rule that will limit political activities of groups like Crossroads GPS. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services are among the others in the cross hairs.

Republicans are already chipping away at the agency’s budget. Tucked into something called a “cromnibus” (a terrible word only politics-obsessed D.C. folks could devise) is a $350 million budget cut to the IRS, and Democrats aren’t really doing anything to push back.

The POLITICO account continues:

IRS watchers warn that the agency is spiraling toward a rocky future that will rival some of its darkest days in its history, when whistleblowers blew the lid off IRS agents abusing power and thousands of tax returns were lost in the mail.

“Unless we are able to correct this, very bad things will happen to taxpayers,” said Nina Olson of the National Taxpayer Advocate, at a November tax preparer conference — over a month before the latest budget cuts even came to light.

The account seems to suggest whistleblowers exposing abuse of power within the agency is a bad thing. But just how bad is it?

Spending negotiators this week froze most agency budgets but reduced the IRS funds to $10.9 billion, a 3 percent cut over last year and $1.5 billion below the president’s request. Appropriators bragged in a release that the level is even lower than the IRS’s 2008 budget.

Those new cuts come atop more than a $1 billion reduction to the IRS budget since 2010, which has forced the tax-collecting agency to shed 13,000 employees while it serves an additional 7 million taxpayers, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Those reductions are about to manifest in what Olson is predicting will be the “worst filing season” in years. For the first time, the agency will be administering Obamacare and another massive international tax law.

Current budget cuts put the IRS at 2008 budget levels. This “the sky is falling” approach to government spending cuts is really getting out of hand. If cutting one agency’s budget back to what it was just six years ago is dramatic, then Congress is never going to be able to rein in spending.

It’s likely that Republicans will attempt to bar the IRS from implementing much of Obamacare in the next Congress, too. When Democrats passed Obamacare, they empowered the IRS to administer many of its aspects.

United Liberty has covered the expansive IRS scandal both here and here.

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