IRS needs more money

Related Links

Corporate e-filing

The Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board has taken the unusual step of submitting its own IRS budget to Congress. In asking for $500 million more than the Bush administration requested in its fiscal 2005 budget for the agency, the board included greater spending increases for information technology.

Members of the board, an independent group that advises the agency on taxpayer service, said the additional money would keep the IRS' modernization project on track and fund efforts to enforce tax payments.

In its fiscal 2005 budget for the IRS, the administration requested $1.9 billion for IT. That included $1.6 billion for information systems, a 3.8 percent increase from fiscal 2004, and $285 million for the modernization, a 26.5 percent decrease from fiscal 2004.

The oversight board's budget, however, seeks $2.1 billion for IT, including $1.7 billion for information systems, an 8 percent increase from fiscal 2004, and $400 million for the modernization, a 3.1 percent increase from fiscal 2004.

Nancy Killefer, the board's chairwoman, told lawmakers that not spending the money necessary to strengthen the IRS at a time when noncompliance has created what is estimated to be a $311 billion tax gap would be shortsighted. That is the amount of taxes officials believe Americans owe the IRS, Killefer said in her testimony last month before the House Ways and Means Committee's Oversight Subcommittee.

"Now is a critical time for our tax system to be strengthened, not merely maintained at current levels," she said. Service to taxpayers has improved in the five years since the board was created, she said, thanks in large part to a growing number of self-service Web applications and online services for tax practitioners.

Compared with Bush's proposed budget, the board's proposal for systems modernization is not punitive but instead "sets the foundation for genuine progress for the program in fiscal 2005," Killefer said.

But Subcommittee Chairman Amo Houghton (R-N.Y.) said the president's budget request for the IRS was already generous compared with amounts requested for other civilian agencies. "You have

$10.7 billion," he said. "Why can't you work something that you think is important within that overall figure?"

James White, director of tax issues at the General Accounting Office, told subcommittee members that in addition to hiring more enforcement officers, achieving greater payment compliance is closely linked to modernizing IRS tax-processing systems and expanding electronic filing.

White suggested that modernizing systems and promoting e-filing would eventually improve operational efficiency enough to pay for service improvements and enhanced enforcement efforts without significant budget increases.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group