The result is that the IRS’s prolific enforcement capabilities — which bring in on average better than $10 in revenue for every $1 spent pursuing audits — are often trained on the most economically vulnerable taxpayers.
More than half of the agency’s audits in 2021 were directed at taxpayers with incomes less than $75,000, according to IRS data. More than 4 in 10 of its audits targeted recipients of the earned income tax credit, one of the country’s main anti-poverty measures.
Congress and the White House, when led by Republicans, have starved the IRS of resources for so long, experts say, that even with an influx of $80 billion in new funding, the agency’s ability to transform itself is far from assured.
Some of its main computers still run on programming language that dates to the 1960s, called COBOL, the IRS has repeatedly told policymakers. The program is so old that college computer science courses rarely teach it anymore, forcing the IRS to spend heavily on training new hires in antiquated systems.
The IRS has 60 discrete case management systems that do not communicate with one another.
Its staffing levels have dropped by 17 percent since 2010, including a 30 percent decline in enforcement employees, because its budget has flatlined: Adjusted for inflation, its annual appropriation from Congress is down 12 percent over the same span, at $12.6 billion this year.
Author(s): Jacob Bogage
Publication Date: 6 Aug 2022
Publication Site: Washington Post