Ander Crenshaw Leads the Charge to Gut the IRS
Around the State
From his perch as chairman of the congressional committee that oversees funding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw has become one of the Republicans’ point men in trying to cut the agency's funding, ensure it never targets political groups again and reduce its role in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law.
Crenshaw, R-Fla., came out swinging at the IRS Wednesday, unveiling a budget proposal cutting more than $340 million from its last budget. Under the proposal, the IRS would receive $10.95 billion in funding, the lowest amount since 2008 and $1.5 billion less than Obama had proposed.
At a committee meeting, Crenshaw took aim at the IRS for targeting tea party groups and mismanaging its funds.
“The committee remains troubled by their (IRS) activities including the inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs, wasteful spending on conferences and videos, and providing bonuses to staff without evaluating their conduct or tax compliance,” Crenshaw said. “While last year’s bill includes some important spending and targeting reforms, we think more needs to be done to rebuild the confidence of the American people and cannot agree to the requested increase in funding. The bill provides the IRS with $10.95 billion, which is $341 million below the current level and $1.5 billion below the request. This funds the IRS below their fiscal year 2008 level.”
Crenshaw and the committee favored adding language to the proposal, which reforms employee bonuses, ensures no monies will be used for targeting political groups or paying for “inappropriate conferences and videos,” stops the White House from asking the IRS to designate groups' tax-exemptions and forces the IRS to make reports on spending and union activities.
“Language is also included prohibiting funds for Treasury to implement the proposed or a revised regulation regarding the standards and definitions used to determine the tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.,” Crenshaw said. “I believe that the administration should wait until the investigations into the inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs are completed before proposing to make any regulatory changes regarding section 501(c)(4). The resources used to promulgate this proposed rule could be better spent responding to taxpayers’ correspondence and phone calls.”
Crenshaw also said the IRS should have less of a role in enacting Obama’s health-care law.
“I also continue to be concerned with the IRS's role in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate in particular,” Crenshaw said. “At a time when the IRS has demonstrated little ability to either self-police or self-correct, the IRS has even more authority over Americans' health coverage. I find this expansion of IRS authority to be unacceptable and, therefore, the bill prohibits funding to implement the individual mandate and prohibits transfers from the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the IRS's implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
There is pushback in the Beltway, including a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which finds that the IRS has been understaffed and behind the times with technology after losing $1 billion in funding since 2010. According to the GAO, there have been consequences for taxpayers.
“Amidst these budget reductions, IRS’s performance has declined in enforcement and taxpayer services,” the report noted. “IRS officials anticipate continued declines in fiscal year 2015.”
Government employee unions are also pushing back against the proposal to cut IRS funding.
“This bill punishes the 150 million individual taxpayers and the 10 million business entity taxpayers who are trying to comply with the tax laws and cannot get the help they need,” said Colleen Kelley, the national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), this week. “Essentially, the message of this bill is: We don’t care how long you have to wait on hold or whether you can get your tax questions or your correspondence answered.”
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