NewsLab

IRS Commissioner: Proposed Federal Budget Helps Improve Services

The new IRS commissioner visited the agency’s Houston office on Wednesday.

commissioner-of-the-IRS-John-Koskinen-800px.png

The commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, John Koskinen, is calling on Congress to go along with the president’s budget for fiscal year 2015, which allocates more money to the agency.

The proposed federal budget grows the portion reserved for the IRS by more than 6 percent to about $12 billion.

Koskinen says the additional money would help his agency to improve taxpayer services.

“What I really hear is that both on enforcement, but particularly on taxpayer service, people are talking about, there used to be more people, they could answer the calls faster. They’re concerned when they get a taxpayer that’s had to wait for half an hour. By definition, the taxpayers were not particularly pleased about that.”

The request for an increased budget comes not too long after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, started calling for the abolition of the IRS, and many prominent Republicans, including Texas’s Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX,  for reducing the agencies responsibilities. Besides collecting taxes, the IRS is charged with implementing the Affordable Care Act, among other duties.

But Koskinen says someone needs to take care of those things. 

“The irony over time is whenever there’s a new program or there’s the earned income tax credit or expanding of it, or Affordable Care Act, when push comes to shove, people say, well, let’s the IRS do it. Because they’re confident it’ll get done. So for an agency that’s episodically under attack for one reason or another, people keep giving up more responsibilities.”

He says if tax collection were all the IRS is charged with, it wouldn’t need more money.

Koskinen also commented on the ongoing investigation into possible wrongdoing by the IRS. Last year it was revealed that the agency singled out some conservative groups that were applying for tax-exempt status.

“There are six investigations going on on the C-4 issue. And my position has been, they’ll tell us what the facts are at the end and we’ll respond accordingly. We’ve already fixed the management issues.”

On Wednesday, former IRS official Lois Lerner again refused to answer questions during a congressional hearing about the issue.

The controversy has cost the IRS some trust among Americans. Koskinen hopes to restore a more positive image of the agency by improving its services.

Share

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

More Information