Washington Secrets

IRS seeks 4,000 agents, $303 million for Obamacare

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

 

The Internal Revenue Service wants to add about 4,000 agents to hunt down tax cheats and still plans to spend $303 million building a system to oversee Obamacare even though its future looks bleak in the U.S. Supreme Court.

A new Government Accountability Office review of the IRS 2012 tax return season and the taxman’s fiscal 2013 budget request also found that the agency’s customer service rating has slipped and 5.5 million returns were delayed a week because of a computer programming glitch.

The news isn’t all bad though. A March 20 GAO performance audit found that the agency has seen a steady increase in e-filing and had processed 68 million returns so far, a 3 percent bump. What’s more, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the American Customer Satisfaction Index for his team has jumped to 73 percent and he added that for every $1 spent on enforcement, the agency collects a return of $4.30.

The audit looked at everything from customer service to pending budget issues. It found that the agency’s “level of service” via phone calls dropped from 70 percent last year to 61 percent currently, and that the number of “abandoned (calls,) busies and disconnects” jumped 41 percent this year and almost 150 percent since 2009. The average wait time for IRS help also surged 48 percent to 16.6 minutes.

As for the new workers sought, the GAO said the total will be about 4,500 with nearly 4,000 slated for enforcement. The IRS, however, argues that past budget cuts have forced the agency to cut jobs and set a hiring freeze. On the $303 million for Obamacare, the GAO said it will “continue the development of new systems and modifications of existing systems required to support new tax credits.”
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