Watchdog calls for more IRS funding as agency implements tax law

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The tax deadline will be April 17 this year, two days later than the traditional April 15 cutoff. "It cannot answer the phone calls it now receives, much less the phone calls it can expect to receive in light of tax reform, without adequate funding".

There are 131 filing systems that will be affected by the new law, the report said.

The IRS needs more funding as it implements the Republicans' new tax law, but can also take some steps to improve taxpayer service that don't require any additional money, the agency's in-house watchdog said.

"Funding cuts have rendered the IRS unable to provide acceptable levels of taxpayer service, unable to upgrade its technology to improve its efficiency and effectiveness, and unable to maintain compliance programs that both promote compliance and protect taxpayer rights", she wrote.

Last year's IRS budget was $11.2 billion.

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Many software companies and tax professionals will be accepting tax returns before January 29 and then will submit the returns when IRS systems open.

USA Today reported that last year's budget for the IRS budget was $11.2 billion, but that Congress still has not set funding levels for federal agencies, even though the current fiscal year began on October 1.

For the most part, the new tax law affects income earned in 2018, and the returns taxpayers must file this year deal with income earned in 2017, under the old tax rules.

"We have already seen confusion about withholding changes, confusion about the deductibility of prepaid property taxes, and confusion about whether states can allow taxpayers to make charitable contributions in lieu of taxes as a way of permitting their residents to claim larger tax deductions than would otherwise be allowed because of the new $10,000 cap on the state and local tax deduction", National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said.

But that does not mean the IRS has a year to get up to speed. "The IRS will have a lot of issues to work through, and taxpayers will have a lot of questions".

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