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Policy: Labor

Examiner Editorial: IRS employee union chief wants more for tax collector

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Opinion,Editorial,Labor unions,Taxes,Labor,Tea Party,IRS,Washington Examiner

Colleen Kelley is a champion of the honest, tax-paying citizen. She will be the first to tell you this and she will do so with a straight face. It's also why she is objecting to the current $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014. It will harm those very same taxpayers. One agency in particular will suffer due to budget cuts, Kelley notes: “It is the linchpin for the entire government, and it must have sufficient resources and staffing to do this critical job effectively.”

Unfortunately, the omnibus is “woefully inadequate.” As a consequence, the taxpayers may not get the “critical services (they) expect and deserve.” Which agency is she referring to? The Internal Revenue Service. Kelley’s interest here is that she is the president of the National Treasury Employees Union. Which is to say, her union represents IRS employees.

Let this sink in for a minute. This Big Labor operative is arguing that the problem here is that the federal tax agency is not large enough to do absolutely everything it wants. Or, as she puts it: “[W]hat is needed is a true investment in the IRS.” Given that the IRS’s general message to taxpayers is “just be thankful that the government is allowing you keep part of your money,” Kelley’s argument that the government is being stingy towards her agency is ironic, to say the least.

That Kelly can seriously make such assertions is doubly amazing when the facts are examined. The omnibus gives the IRS $11.3 billion to spend this year, down from the $11.9 billion it got last year and the $11.8 billion the year before that. Kelley, along with the White House, had called for a billion and a half above the omnibus level. Are the IRS workers taking a serious hit as a result? Actually, no. For one thing, the agency is adding 16,000 additional employees, thanks to Obamacare. And don't forget the $92 million the IRS handed out in bonuses to its top executives between 2009 and 2012.

This is where Kelley says that taxpayers will suffer. It will mean longer telephone waits for tax information and slower processing of returns, she says. “Since 2010, IRS funding and staffing have been cut by 8 percent, despite a steady increase in the agency’s workload.” If that argument sounds familiar, it should, because it is standard-fare bureaucratese for "give us more tax dollars so we can hire more bureaucrats."

The IRS could instead take a page from the very people it serves by learning to live within a diminished budget. Millions of American families do it every day, so why not the government? Or better yet, why not simply reduce the IRS’s workload? One place to start would be the IRS’s campaign targeting Tea Party, conservative and evangelical nonprofits. These groups consist of people who just want to exercise their free speech rights to criticize politicians and bureaucrats in government, and to suggest reforms to make things better. Just a thought.

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