Tags: IRS | tax | Commissioner | Congress

Taxpayers Are in for Trouble This Tax-Filing Season

By Monday, 22 December 2014 08:11 AM Current | Bio | Archive

My Sunday morning breakfast group is really upset. It's getting to be tax time and filing tax returns is always a major pain.

The usual toasted bagel, chive cream cheese, lox and coffee is just not going to cut it. A discussion involving taxes call for heavy-duty comfort food like challah French toast smothered in syrup.

As we close out the year, most of the breakfast group has met this past week with their tax accountant to close out their books and records, fill out their CPA's tax questionnaires and go hunting for whatever seems to be missing from the piles of receipts and records all supposed to be kept for tax purposes.

This is the stuff that really can make any taxpayer fume. The government regularly can't seem to account for billions of dollars spent and is defrauded of even more billions, but will crucify a taxpayer who can't extensively document a $25.71 business lunch.

I give the guys some bad news.

"You know how painful things were last year when getting your tax return together for filing? Well, this year is going to be worse. And more expensive."

The fact that both Congress and the Treasury treat the taxpayers like dirt is already an old story. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Taxpayer Advocate Service have both issued reports and statements as to the mounting deficiencies of the IRS. Customer care is not part of the bureaucratic lexicon.

The Taxpayer Advocate called the IRS an agency in chaos — undermanned, unfunded and overburdened. The Inspector General says the same thing and provides the details of just what that means.

Then, of course, is the nature of the bureaucracy itself. The IRS is mired in scandal coming from its use as a political weapon by the Obama administration against its political enemies, as well as being the tool to advance an agenda that sees taxpayers as cattle to be milked until they are bone dry and then slaughtered.

This year the Commissioner announced that tax-filing season will start on time, but there will be little problems with the IRS sending refunds. They have people who will take the money but don't have the personnel to get the refund checks out on time. Basically, the taxpayers have to play by the rules but the government doesn't.

Got a question? Want to call the IRS to get an answer?

Good luck with that.

It's not likely you'll actually get someone on the telephone. If you do manage to get through, then odds are that whoever is answering is not going to have the right answer. If the IRS were a service sold on Amazon it would have a universal buyer's rating of negative stars.

One of the guys in the breakfast group said, "Well, they'll just have a lot of the IRS employees work overtime and likely get double time for doing it. Heck, during tax season my CPA barely goes home for four months."

CPAs work for a living. They do what they need to do to keep their clients satisfied.
The government doesn't have to please anyone. Not this year. The Commissioner says that the IRS gets only $12 billion as a budget. With that little amount of money, the Commissioner says the IRS is freezing new hires and limiting workers to a maximum 40-hour week.

Besides that, there hasn't been enough money to really run training programs.

I tend to give the Commissioner a little leeway on this. Seeing as how he has no professional qualifications or experience in tax I discount anything he says as to tax matters. However, he does have significant management experience so I accept that he can spot operational problems in a bureaucracy.

This year the IRS will start dealing with the complications of Obamacare in earnest. It's mere speculation on my part, but I think that it will be a disaster of enormous proportions. For some reason this situation reminds me of the movie The China Syndrome. (It starred Jack Lemmon as a nuclear engineer and Jane Fonda as the investigative reporter in a story about a nuclear reactor meltdown.)

Then there is going to be the impact of the foreign account disclosure law, where anyone who has anything to do with non-US financial matters is going to be filing even more enormously complicated forms. Some 7 million U.S. taxpayers living outside the United States are already steaming with anger — most of it directed at the IRS and not without, in all honesty, pretty good reasons.

Congress has shortchanged the IRS and increased its responsibilities. I tell the other guys that I would find it refreshing if the Commissioner would just say out loud something like the tax system is now unadministratable and must be repealed and replaced. Not that there are many in Congress who would listen anyway.

As we finished the last cup of coffee, it was clear to the breakfast group that this tax-filing season is going to be a lot of trouble.

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My Sunday morning breakfast group is really upset. It's getting to be tax time and filing tax returns is always a major pain.
IRS, tax, Commissioner, Congress
Monday, 22 December 2014 08:11 AM
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