Thursday, January 07, 2010

Where DID the Money Go (and Where IS the Transparency)?!

With little or no explanation, the IRS announced today that collections from delinquent taxpayers was $32 billion or 27% less than previously reported. IRS Taxpayer Nina Olson slammed the change while fellow IRS spokespeople Michelle Eldridge stated that the change in the 2005-07 collections would be explained in next year's (2009) IRS Data Book. Additional criticisms came from Ms. Olson on poor telephone answering performance (as a percentage of calls, Ms. Eldridge indicated that the absolute number of taxpayer assitance calls answered actually increased) and excessive use of liens on small businesses; Taxpayer Union VP Pete Sepp on sloppiness or lack of transparency on the change in the collections number and ranking Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-IA) on IRS favortism of big banks oompared to small businesses on application of IRS liens.

The phone performance issue has been around for a while and degree of problem comes down to whether percentage or absolute numbers matters more to you. The change in delinquency collection numbers and corresponding lack of explanation is far more troubling; especially with the proposed health care legislation using the IRS as an enforcement mechanism. Waiting until next year may be necessary for Chicago Cub baseball fans but it is NOT appropriate for this level of taxpayers with this level of change in collections.

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