Senate Testimony, Kelley Supports Enhanced IRS Funding in FY11 Budget
NTEU strongly supported the Obama administration’s proposal for a $487 million increase in Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding in fiscal 2011, particularly its call to boost funding for IRS enforcement and taxpayer service activities. The White House has proposed an IRS budget of $12.6 billion in fiscal 2011, up from $12.1 billion this fiscal year.
In submitted testimony to the Senate Finance Committee, NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said that not only would the enhanced funding boost enforcement and taxpayer service efforts, it also would allow the IRS to continue to rebuild its depleted workforce—down by almost 20,000 employees since 1995.
“The president’s request will allow the IRS to continue helping taxpayers meet their tax obligations while also improving enforcement of the tax law,” President Kelley said.
The NTEU leader added that the IRS’ comprehensive approach to enhanced, multi-faceted taxpayer customer service programs and assertive tax law enforcement played a critical role in the agency’s successful 2009 filing season, despite the challenges posed by the implementation of the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payment program and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
Last filing season, IRS employees processed more than144 million individual returns and issued 111 million refunds, totaling $339.6 billion; answered almost 39 million calls from taxpayers requesting information on new credits available to them; and helped more than 6.2 million taxpayers at the 401 Taxpayer Assistance Centers located around the country. Already this year, IRS employees have processed about 90 million individual tax returns and have issued more than 74 million refunds, totaling about $219.4 billion.
“These talented and dedicated IRS professionals deserve the public’s respect, support and appreciation,” President Kelley said, noting in particular employees’ efforts in handling claims and amended returns connected to the First-Time Homebuyer Credit among other programs. “No one can match the exemplary performance of IRS employees in terms of collecting the revenue the government needs to fund the broad range of programs and services the public wants and deserves,” she said.
With another tax filing season coming to a close, Kelley’s testimony touched on critical taxpayer service issues, especially funding to enhance current levels of telephone service at the agency. She voiced support for the administration proposal to include $20 million in additional funding to improve telephone service levels.
“Providing quality services to taxpayers is an important part of any overall strategy to improve compliance,” Kelley said. “The president’s request for taxpayer services will enable the IRS to deliver another successful filing season, improve the responsiveness and accuracy of taxpayer service, and support IRS efforts to enhance taxpayer compliance.”
In the wake of recent events in Austin, Texas, President Kelley also focused on federal employee safety issues and building security at the IRS. She pledged to work with both Congress and the IRS to undertake a comprehensive review of safety and security measures at agency facilities nationwide. Kelley also renewed her call for IRS employees to have access to any and all information on individuals who could pose a threat to their safety.
“It is important for IRS employees to feel safe and secure in the workplace as they carry out their duties,” Kelley said. “NTEU stands ready to work with the IRS to ensure the proper safeguards are in place to ensure the safety of IRS employees.”