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S.O.S. For The I.R.S.

Trouble at the I.R.S. Does the nation’s tax-collector still have what it takes to do the job?

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, to testify before the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing focusing on a variety of issues facing the IRS. (AP)

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, to testify before the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee hearing focusing on a variety of issues facing the IRS. (AP)

Nobody loves the I.R.S.  The Internal Revenue Service.  The nation’s tax collector.  The heat was especially high last year when the I.R.S. was accused of going after political non-profits – conservative, then liberal, too.  But on the core function of the I.R.S., most would agree that if you’re going to have tax collection we need it done well.  Need an I.R.S. that’s efficient, competent, responsive, on top of fraud.  And some big reports are saying that we do not.  That fraud is rife, tax collections shrinking.  That the I.R.S. can’t keep up and may “fail at its mission.”  This hour On Point:  does the nation’s tax-collector still have what it takes to do the job?

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Kranish, deputy chief of the Boston Globe’s Washington bureau. Co-author of “John F. Kerry: The Boston Globe Biography” and “The Real Romney.” Author of “Flight From Monticello: Thomas Jefferson At War.” (@GlobeKranish)

Nina Olson, National Taxpayer Advocate. (@YourVoiceAtIRS)

From Tom’s Reading List

Boston Globe: IRS is America’s feared and failing agency — “Is the IRS, which collects 90 percent of the nation’s revenue, up to the basics of its job? The surprising answer is that it often is not. A Globe review of dozens of government reports and audits, as well as interviews with key officials, found a series of fundamental problems:”

Kansas City Star: IRS is not yet prepared for expected deluge of calls about health care reform, commissioner says — “Cost-cutting at the IRS has reduced its workforce by 10,000 in the last four years, Koskinen said. It employs about 90,000 and operates on an $11 billion budget. Still, resources are so tight that Koskinen apologized in advance for callers who won’t be able to reach the agency by phone this tax season. Last year, 18 million phone calls to the tax agency ‘didn’t get answered at all,’ he said.”

Forbes: IRS Processing Returns, Refunds Faster Than In 2013 — “Processed returns far issued outpace last year’s numbers, despite an abbreviated filing season and a slight dip in the number of returns actually received. Some of the strong showing could be attributable to e-filing returns which tend to have fewer filing and processing errors: according to the IRS, nearly 95% of the returns received to date this filing season were filed electronically. Also good news for early filers? Refunds are up. “

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