(Feb. 27)  When even progressives complain about the arrogance and incompetence of the IRS , it’s clear the agency needs a housecleaning. Then again, if Congress did its job, the IRS would have less leeway to screw up.

When congressional Democrats rolled over unanimous Republican opposition last year to provide the IRS with an additional $80 billion, much of which was to hire 87,000 new staffers, the agency itself was left significant leeway to decide exactly how to spend the money. This was a dereliction of duty by the Democratic Congress, which not only targeted the money far more heavily toward “enforcement” than to customer service, but even within those parameters, left the IRS with too much wiggle room.

On Aug. 17, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen directed the agency to provide, within six months, an “operational plan detailing how these resources will be deployed over the course of the next decade.” The plan, she said, “must include metrics for areas of focus and targets over the course of the coming years.” Before Congress even approved the new money, then-Commissioner of the IRS Charles Rettig had said, “We don’t plan to wait six months to implement what Congress provides to us. We will be ready.”

Of course, the IRS missed the Feb. 17 deadline.

Dedicated conservative watchdogs such as Americans for Tax Reform naturally blasted the agency’s failure , with ATR’s John Kartch writing that “Perhaps it should be assessed penalties and interest for each day late as regular Americans must do when they miss IRS deadlines.”

While conservative outrage is valuable and should not be taken for granted, it also is not unexpected. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to be IRS boosters (which is why they pushed for the $80 billion in the first place!), so when a leading progressive voice condemns the agency, that means the agency really has messed up…. [The full column is here.]



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