New IRS commissioner John Koskinen is beginning his tenure with some blunt words: If you need IRS help on the telephone, be prepared to wait -- a long time. The IRS posted a YouTube video of the commissioner's message to taxpayers as the pace of the 2014 filing season picks up.
The Scrapbook’s attention was drawn last week to a front-page story in the New York Times about a small organization, based in Los Angeles, that is applying for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Called the Friends of Abe, it is a loose association of about 1,500 “players in the entertainment industry” who gather periodically to dine together and listen to invited speakers.
The Internal Revenue Service is conducting a pilot program allowing IRS employees to use personal smart phones to access government email accounts and other work related information. The program is known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has raised concerns about the security and cost-effectiveness of the program in a recent report:
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reported last week that in 2011, the IRS paid out $3.6 billion in fraudulent refunds on tax returns filed by identity thieves. Even that amount was an improvement over the previous year when the total fraud was $5.2 billion. However, on Tuesday, TIGTA released a new report that found that though the IRS is making some progress against fraud, it is not using all available tools to prevent erroneous refunds and improper tax credits.
A report issued in September and released this week by the IRS's Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) found continuing problems with the agency's Volunteer Program, which provides free tax preparation and electronic filing for "low- and moderate-income, elderly, disabled, and limited-English-proficient taxpayers."
A new audit by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released on October 24 found that while the IRS has improved the timeliness of scanning taxpayer correspondence into its Correspondence Imaging System (CIS) since a previous audit six years ago, the accuracy rate has apparently declined during that same time period.
Despite a law passed 15 years ago, some Internal Revenue Service employees continue to use the designation "Illegal Tax Protester" and other similar designations in their case narratives, according to an audit just released by TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration). While the IRS has not reintroduced an actual code for such designations, the audit found out of 257 million records, there were:
Last Friday, I critiqued a piece by Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan for inaccurately summarizing the media coverage of the IRS scandal. I encourage you to read both pieces, but in a nutshell Nyhan was arguing that the media had failed to report on new developments since the scandal broke that would reshape our understanding of the scandal as being less driven by partisanship.
Over at the Columbia Journalism Review, political scientist Brendan Nyhan has a piece dismissing the IRS scandal out-of-hand and gently scolding the media for for acting irresponsibly in their coverage. You get the thrust in the first two paragraphs:
At this point, the evidence on the Internal Revenue Service scandal is clear. Contrary to the initial hype, there is no credible evidence of White House involvement in targeting conservative groups or even evidence that Tea Party or other conservative groups were targeted exclusively. It turns out that the keyword lists used by the IRS to target groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny also included terms like “Occupy” and “Progressive” as well as “occupied territories” and “open source software.”
During his speech on the economy last month in Galesburg, Illinois, Barack Obama suggested Washington should stop focusing on an “endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals.” He repeated the line about “phony scandals” in another speech on July 25 and in his weekly address on July 27. Obama, whose approval rating has been falling since the spring, has been rocked by months of scandal coverage. His administration’s strategy to change the subject, it seems, is to channel its inner Holden Caulfield.
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on the de-fund vs. delay Obamacare debate, the so-called 'phony' scandals that aren't going away, and the Chris Christie/Rand Paul schoolyard brawl.