The IRS is not the most popular government agency. This is not news. What is a developing problem is more and more people feel that reacting to the Service through with violence is somehow an acceptable option. Can we expect another lunatic to fly a plane into a building? Hard to say. But Joe Kristan did warn us about this.
And now the Treasury Inspector General has informed Tim Geithner that this will be one of the “challenges” the Service can expect in the new year:
In addition to safeguarding a vast amount of sensitive financial and personal data, the IRS must also protect approximately 100,000 employees and more than 700 facilities throughout the country. Attacks and threats against IRS employees and facilities have risen steadily in recent years.
The February 2010 attack on an IRS facility in Austin, Texas, is a stark reminder of the dangers that IRS employees face every day in trying to perform their jobs. Animosity towards the tax collection process is nothing new, but the Austin incident and other recent events point to a surge of hostility towards the Federal Government. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the militia movement has almost quadrupled in size in the past two years, growing to more than 200 groups across the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that anti-government and hate groups have grown from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, a 244 percent increase. The ongoing public debate regarding the recently enacted health care legislation may also lead to increased threats against IRS employees and facilities, underscoring the need for continuing vigilance in the area of physical security.
It’s good to know that our country is filled with so many level-headed folks that creating hate groups has become a relatively popular thing to do.
This morning we shared some best practices on how to keep your ass out of hot water should an IRS audit befall you. The concern is that the government spending is out of control, huge deficits yada yada yada, the IRS will be knocking on more doors.
Well, now it appears that the last entity type standing, the sole proprietorship will join the rest as an IRS target. IRS-criticizer-in-chief J. Russell George’s TIGTA issued another report but this time it cites sole proprietorships for “$68 billion of the $345 billion tax gap in 2001,” in underreported income. Web CPA reports George’s thoughts:
“Sole proprietors who underreport their income can create an unfair burden on honest taxpayers and diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement. “It is imperative that the IRS institutes policies to address this problem.”
How’s this for addressing a problem? The Internal Revenue Code, you my have heard, is mind-numbingly complex. Sole proprietorships, out of all the entity structures, are the least equipped to ensure compliance with the tax law. Auditing more of them will not result in increased compliance but rather enormous costs to their businesses. As for “diminish the public’s respect for the tax system,” didn’t that ship sail ages ago?
While we’re typically not ones to speculate on the difficulty of any particular job (e.g. CEO of a Big 4 firm) the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) probably has the easiest job on Earth.
As far as we can tell, the TIGTA is responsible for criticizing the IRS on, well, pretty much everything that the Service does wrong and then the IRS agrees that they suck and promises to do better.
And if you’re going by the TIGTA website we’re more or less correct:
“TIGTA promotes the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the internal revenue laws. It is also committed to the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse within the IRS and related entities.”
We’re assuming that Doug Shulman probably agree with our assessment but that guy doesn’t even like pizza, so who cares what he thinks?
Anyhoo, the latest Monday Morning QBing from the TIGTA is that some of the Service’s senior revenue officers are basically sitting around with nothing to do. Web CPA reports:
Senior revenue officers at the Internal Revenue Service who are supposed to handle more complicated tax cases oftentimes don’t receive any work assignments, according to a new government report…
The relative lack of work for the senior revenue officers to do occurred because there is no systemic means for IRS managers to identify the most complex cases, and the criteria for identifying complex cases are subjective and inconsistently interpreted.
So you’re a senior revenue officer with 5-6 years (?) on the job. You’ve got this gig pretty much figured out. Not only do you know the ropes, you make the fucking ropes. Your manager has suits from DC so far up their ass about collecting every dime available that they can’t see straight, so they just want you busy do anything.
You, being a reasonably lazy (and realistic) person, aren’t going to kill yourself. If you’ve got the choice of picking up a 1040 that’s hundreds of pages long versus a 1040EZ that has fewer pages that a Tony Alamo pamphlet, you’re going to pick up the 1040EZ.
Well now J. Russell George is slapping those managers around with a report deeming this unacceptable which may mean that your slacking days are over:
“I am troubled that IRS managers are not providing employees with work assignments that they are ready and able to do at a time when it is incumbent on the IRS to be as efficient and effective as possible,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement.
JRG is recommending that the IRS improve it’s methods of identifying more complex cases (that the IRS naturally agreed with). We think a tax return thickness analysis is a decent place to start.