Earlier this week, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson gave her annual report to Congress. It's always a hoot as Ms. Olson's job is pretty much to tell the IRS why they suck. This year's report was critical to be sure, but Ms. Olson surprisingly seemed to take up the torch for the Service:
The agency’s staff reductions and backlog have limited its ability to collect the hundreds of billions of dollars a year that the government is owed but not paid, Nina E. Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, said in her annual report to Congress. To administer an increasingly complex tax code, the I.R.S. has devised an assortment of automated computer programs that ask millions of taxpayers to adjust their taxes paid without going through a costly audit. But those automated examinations do not provide a clear explanation of how to appeal, the report found. Even for taxpayers whose returns are correct, the study concluded, response times have slowed, and refund delays have increased.
This demonstrates aptly what happens when those wishing for fewer "IRS goons" get what they want. A critical government function clearly stretched thin. Olson's report makes this news all the more strange:
The Internal Revenue Service has begun offering a $25,000 buyout program to encourage up to 400 of its employees to accept retirement or early retirement by March.
Doing EVEN more with EVEN less: the new normal at the IRS.