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IRS Warns Of Slower Tax Refunds, More Identity Theft Risk

14 Jan

A wicked storm is heading our direction…

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Visits Miami IRS Officelie 6

Coming soon from the IRS: Slower tax refunds, fewer identity-theft protections and worse customer service.

That’s the word in an alarming email obtained by ABC News and sent to IRS employees today by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The only possible silver lining (especially for tax cheats): fewer audits. To be specific: 46,000 fewer audits this year and 1,800 fewer IRS enforcement officers.

That’s because the IRS budget has been slashed so deeply – the lowest inflation-adjusted budget in nearly two decades — that Koskinen says “we have no choice but to do less with less.”

The Commissioner writes that the budget cuts will mean a slower and less helpful IRS.

“We now anticipate an even lower level of telephone service than before,” Koskinen writes, “which raises the real possibility that fewer than half of taxpayers trying to call us will actually reach us.”

Refund checks will be delayed by a week or longer and planned new identity-theft protections will be delayed.

Spending less on the IRS’s budget will actually cost taxpayers more money. Koskinen says the enforcement cut-back will cost the Treasury some $2 billion in lost tax revenue.

Here’s the Commissioners email:


From: *Commissioner Koskinen Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 2:01 PM To: &&Employees All Subject: Budget update: Tough choices

As I promised last month, I am following up with you to share some important new details about what the 2015 budget cuts will mean for you and your colleagues as well as the nation’s taxpayers.

There is no way around the severity of these budget cuts without taking some difficult steps. Congress approved a $10.9 billion budget for us, which means we must absorb a cut of $346 million during the remaining nine months of the fiscal year. But that really amounts to a total reduction of about $600 million when you count another $250 million in mandated costs and inflation. This is the lowest level of funding since 2008, and the lowest since 1998 when inflation is considered.

To determine the full impact of this budget cut, our senior leadership and our financial team have been working since its enactment in December. We have also discussed the situation with NTEU during this period as we grappled with some very difficult choices that none of us want to make.

As I have said before, this year we are looking at a situation where realistically we have no choice but to do less with less. With that mind, we have made additional decisions to reflect the budget reduction.

Here are a few examples of what these cuts will mean this year:

Delays to critical IT investments of more than $200 million. Impact: This will hurt taxpayer service and cost-efficiency efforts as well as reduce outside contractor support for critical projects.

o This means that new taxpayer protections against identity theft will be delayed.

o The Taxpayer Advocate Service won’t be able to obtain a new case management system to oversee taxpayer hardship cases.

o Aging IT systems will not be replaced, increasing the risk of downtime that affects taxpayer service and your ability to work effectively.

o We will not be able to invest upfront money to gain future operational savings, such as moving to a shared cloud infrastructure and reducing data center space.

Enforcement cuts of more than $160 million. Impact:

o Fewer audit and collection cases. Reduced staffing in enforcement will result in at least 46,000 fewer individual and business audit closures and more than 280,000 fewer Automated Collection System and Field Collection case closures

o As a result of the hiring freeze, we will lose about 1,800 enforcement personnel through attrition during FY 2015.

o The reduced enforcement staffing for just FY 2015 means the government will lose at least $2 billion in revenue that otherwise would have been collected.

Cuts in overtime and temporary staff hours by more than $180 million. Impact:

o Delays in refunds for some taxpayers. People who file paper tax returns could wait an extra week — or possibly longer — to see their refund. Taxpayers with errors or questions on their returns that require additional manual review will also face delays.

o Increasing correspondence inventories. We realize there will be growing inventories in Accounts Management, and taxpayer correspondence will face lengthy delays.

o Taxpayer service diminished further over the phone and in person. We now anticipate an even lower level of telephone service than before, which raises the real possibility that fewer than half of taxpayers trying to call us will actually reach us. During Fiscal Year 2014, 64 percent were able to get through. Those who do reach us will face extended wait times that are unacceptable to all of us.

Extending the hiring freeze through FY 2015. Impact: As a result of the hiring freeze and assuming normal attrition rates, we expect to lose between 3,000 and 4,000 additional full-time employees. The total reduction in full-time staffing between FY 2010 and FY 2015 is expected to be between 16,000 and 17,000.

During this process, we tried to protect critical areas as much as we could. We will still work to deliver as smooth a filing season as possible. We will maintain IT systems critical to the filing season and tax enforcement. This commitment also includes providing appropriate training and technology support for you and your colleagues to help you do your job.

Even with all of these reductions, we still face a remaining budget shortfall. Unfortunately, this means at this time we need to plan for the possibility of a shutdown of IRS operations for two days later this fiscal year, which will involve furloughing employees on those days. We plan to work with NTEU regarding this possibility, and will fulfill our bargaining obligation with NTEU. This is an area of major concern for me and the entire IRS leadership team. Shutting down the IRS will be a last resort, but I want to be upfront with you about the problem. I know even a day’s worth of pay makes a huge difference in household budgets and family situations. While we will continue to do the best we can to avoid this action, the cuts in the budget are so deep that we may have no other choice.

If this becomes necessary, our goal will be to minimize disruption to employees and our operations as well as taxpayers and the tax professional community. The timing for these dates would be late in the fiscal year, so between now and then we can do everything possible to avoid them.

I realize the importance of a possible shutdown. We will be engaging NTEU in negotiations shortly. Furthermore, we will continue to keep you updated on this in the weeks and months ahead.

The effect of these cuts will hurt taxpayers and our tax system. But I know firsthand the commitment and dedication you and your colleagues have to the nation and to taxpayers, and I know you will continue to do your best even as we are forced to do less than all of us want.

John A. Koskinen


8 Sep

IRS Has Lost More E-mails . . .

It’s not just Lois Lerner’s e-mails. The Internal Revenue Service says it can’t produce e-mails from six more employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups, according to two Republicans investigating the scandal.

The IRS recently informed Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails, including from Nikole Flax, the chief of staff to former IRS commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired in the wake of the targeting scandal.

The revelation about Lerner’s e-mails rekindled the targeting scandal and today’s news has further inflamed Republicans. Camp and Boustany are now demanding a special prosecutor to investigate “every angle” of the events that led to Lois Lerner’s revelation in May 2013 that the agency had used inappropriate criteria to review the applications for tax exemption.

The lawmakers expressed particular outrage that the agency has known since February that it would not be able to produce the e-mails requested by the committee yet did not apprise the committee of that fact, and they charged in a statement that the IRS is attempting to “cover up the fact that it convenient lost key documents in the investigation.”

If Lerner is the central figure in the scandal — Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved — Flax may be an important auxiliary figure. E-mails produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the group Judicial Watch show Flax giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuting nonprofit groups — at the suggestion of Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse — for engaging in political activity after declaring on their application for nonprofit status that they had no plans to do so.


E-mails uncovered by the committee last week showed that, in preparation for her meeting with the Department of Justice, Lerner and one of her advisers transmitted 1.1 million pages of data on nonprofit groups, including confidential taxpayer information, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, potentially in violation of federal law.

Mark Caserta: IRS corruption meets ‘smidgen’ standard

26 Jun


Jun. 26, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

President Obama appears determined to eclipse his Politifact “Lie of the Year” regarding Obamacare with his position on the recent IRS debacle.

In response to a question about the IRS investigation during a recent interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, President Obama emphatically declared that “not even a smidgen of corruption” was involved in the IRS scandal.

In fact, the president has referenced it as one of a number of GOP fabricated “phony scandals.”

Really, Mr. President?

Not only do I believe this is quintessential partisan corruption for political gain, this incredulous journey has brought to light the conniving, liberal factions of the Internal Revenue Service and their abusive overreach into American’s lives.

In August 2010, the IRS circulated the first “Be on the lookout” list to its tax exempt screener and evaluator unit, commissioning minions to flag applications with key words such as “Tea Party” and “Patriots.”

In June 2011, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., sent a letter to then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman inquiring about IRS targeting of taxpayers who donated money to conservative groups, as well as information regarding audits of 501(c)(4) organizations.

In July 2011, the IRS responded to Chairman Camp’s letter with assurances “that the IRS’s actions in this area were in no way influenced by political considerations.”

In March 2012, during a hearing of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, Commissioner Shulman was asked about reports that the IRS has been unfairly targeting Tea Party groups. Shulman responded, “I can give you assurance, there is absolutely no targeting.”

However, complaints were pouring in from conservative groups regarding questionable IRS application forms and difficulties securing tax-exempt status.

A March 2012 follow-up letter sent by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darryl Issa, R-Calif., to IRS Exempt Organization Division Director Lois Lerner requested additional information related to the reports that conservative groups were receiving “extra scrutiny” from the IRS.

In April 2012, Director Lerner responded to Chairman Issa’s letter that “the ordinary course of the application process” was in place for securing tax-exempt status.

Months of investigation began exposing irrefutable proof that the IRS had unfairly audited conservative Tea Party organizations far more than others.

In February 2013, Lerner publicly admitted the IRS had indeed targeted taxpayers based on their political stance. Lerner then wrongly attempted to blame the entire perusal on two “rogue” front-line workers in a Cincinnati office.

In a May 2013 Oversight Committee hearing, after reading an opening statement asserting her innocence in the scandal, Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment. A “repeat performance” in March 2014 saw her held in contempt of Congress.

And now, with GOP lawmakers closing in on the truth, the IRS expects Americans to believe that Lerner’s emails from a two-year period during the scandal’s timeline have disappeared, along with emails from six other IRS employees, and that “unfortunately” the hard drives also were destroyed.

To deny this masquerade is a blatant, government cover-up would be simply nonsensical.

But for President Obama to deny even a “smidgen” of corruption exists in this IRS atrocity is, well, predictable.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.


24 Jun

WASHINGTON – The CEO of a major a federal contractor, which has several contracts with the Treasury Department, says it should be relatively easy for IRS contractors to retrieve the “lost” emails of Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the tea party-targeting scandal.

lernerRon Gula is CEO and chief technical officer of Tenable Network Security, an information technology services company nestled in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that has major contracts with many federal agencies, including the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service and United States Mint.

“It is very unlikely that the emails in question are not stored on a backup machine someplace else,” Gula told WND.

Gula also said questions about the lost emails from Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, R-Calif., for Monday evening’s hearing are spot on.

Over the weekend, Issa called IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify Monday evening about the IRS’ “email systems, data retention policies, and document production processes.”

“Because the IRS has refused to provide basic information about these matters to the committee in advance of the hearing, and in the interest of promoting a frank and thorough discussion at the hearing, I ask that you provide answers to the factual questions posed below,” Issa said in a letter to Koskinen.

In his letter, Issa asked Koskinen to provide further details about the “failure of the hard drive,” identify employees involved in examining the hard drive, explain steps taken by the IRS to recover the information and give dates of those attempts. He also asked for the identities of all IRS employees who had any role or responsibility in maintaining or servicing IRS email servers since 2009 and for other details on the IRS archival systems.

After reviewing the letter, Gula said, “Many of the questions outlined for [Monday’s] session are on the right track.” He said the emails in question could also be stored on any number of laptops and systems such as spam filters, which process email throughout the IRS.

Gula noted that because IRS contractors have the same access as employees to email systems, there shouldn’t be any issue retrieving lost data.

“In my experience, contractors who were authorized to do work for organizations like the IRS have full access to email and corporate resources,” he said.

To make email work for an organization the size of the IRS, Gula said, “there must be a great deal of redundancy and separate systems to deliver email reliably.”

WND found that several large corporations hold the IRS’ Total Information Processing Services, or TIPSS-4, contract to handle the IRS’ email servers and provide staff to work, in many cases, on site at IRS offices.

Those companies include: Accenture, Unisys, AT&T Government Solutions, Avaya Government Solutions, Booz Allen Hamilton, CGI Federal, Computer Sciences Corp., Deloitte Consulting, General Dynamics, HP Enterprises, IBM, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Systems and Pragmatics.

Issa called an archivist from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration and invited White House counsel Jennifer O’Connell to testify Monday in a continuation of the investigation.


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