Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wants more money to fix the ‘awful’ performance of the IRS

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress Wednesday that the IRS is doing an “awful” job responding to taxpayers but President Biden’s request for $80 billion more for the agency will increase its efficiency.

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Ms. Yellen agreed with the assessment of Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey Democrat, that the IRS must improve its performance of answering only 10% of taxpayers’ phone calls.

“Ten percent is not a good grade,” Mr. Pascrell said. “It stinks.”

“It’s awful,” Ms. Yellen replied. “And it reflects the fact that the IRS is hugely under-resourced. They have essentially the same number of employees that they had 40 years ago.”

The administration is requesting $80 billion more for the IRS over the next 10 years to beef up auditing and enforcement of high-earning taxpayers, saying it will result in at least $600 billion more in tax revenue being collected.

Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, said more money won’t help an agency riddled with mismanagement and driven by partisan agendas. He cited a proposal to require banks to report deposits of $600 or more, a plan which has since been raised to $10,000.

“For the past year, Treasury has ignored the tax-refund crisis, with an unconscionable total of 26 million returns backlogged at the IRS,” Mr. Brady said. “Americans hit hard with inflation can’t even get their own refunds back to help keep their family budgets afloat. Money’s not the problem. Congress gave the IRS over $1.8 billion in emergency funding. Instead of using it to work off the backlog, Treasury instead focused on pushing a dangerous bank surveillance scheme that would target the privacy of families, small businesses and farmers, and funding to unleash 80,000 new IRS agents and American taxpayers including low-and moderate-income families.”

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