IRS requests more IT funds
- By Judi Hasson
- Apr 17, 2000
The Internal Revenue Service needs more money for its long-term modernization
program to replace a system that still uses tape to store taxpayer data.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told a subcommittee of the House Government
Reform Committee on April 10 that the tax agency needs an infusion of $119
million this year to keep its modernization plans on time and on target.
Without the funding, taxpayer records will continue to be filed on tape
and physically stored at IRS sites, not electronically. And efforts to audit
taxpayer compliance will be hampered.
"This agency is very, very deep in the hole in this matter," Rossotti
said. "Every day, we see examples of horrible problems in administering
the tax laws."
The 1998 IRS Restructuring and Reform Act set the stage for overhauling
the IRS, but money has been slow in coming from Congress. For fiscal 2001,
the IRS is asking for $119 million for its information technology investment
account, including $42 million to cover IRS reorganization expenses and
$40 million to develop or design new systems. The IRS expects to spend billions
to carry out its modernization program.
But upgrading those systems will be no easy task, according to the General
Accounting Office. In a report also delivered to the subcommittee on April
10, GAO said the IRS' most difficult work in upgrading its systems lies
"The magnitude of this modernization effort makes it a high-risk venture
that will take years to fully implement," the report stated.
News about IRS technology initiatives is not all bad. According to Rossotti,
the IRS World Wide Web site has had 658 million hits since last year, with
taxpayers downloading more than 251.5 million forms for the 1999 tax season.