clear
Sunday October 21st, 2018 11:20AM

After tax season, beleaguered IRS must deal with overhaul

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The IRS, pummeled for years by congressional Republicans and funding cuts, faces the challenge of administering the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code in three decades. But first the beleaguered agency had to get through the current tax-filing season.

The final year under the "old" tax regime, 2017, has to be accounted for by taxpayers in returns by Tuesday. So how did the agency do? Did pencil-chewing taxpayers get their questions answered over the phone? Did early filers get prompt refunds?

The average refund so far? About $2,900.

Acting Internal Revenue Service Commissioner David Kautter is due to report Thursday to the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee. The panel's chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said attention will be on ensuring the agency "is well staffed and has the technology it needs to serve taxpayers, reduce fraud and keep taxpayer information secure."

The massive Republican tax-cut legislation was muscled through Congress late last year and now stands as President Donald Trump's marquee achievement. It took effect Jan. 1, billed as a huge boon for the stressed middle class and a key GOP selling point in the midterm elections this year. The $1.5 trillion package provides generous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, and more modest reductions for middle- and low-income individuals and families.

The tax cuts for corporations are permanent, while those for individuals and families expire in 2026. Nonpartisan tax experts project that the law will bring lower taxes for the great majority of Americans, though not all.

Already taxpayers have seen a tangible result of the new tax law. Millions of working Americans saw bigger paychecks starting early in the year. Companies and payroll service providers — and their computer systems — had to adjust to new withholding tables crafted by the IRS to reflect changes in tax rates for different income levels under the new law.

The tax bill or refunds for the changes won't come in until 2019. Meanwhile, this filing season by the numbers: Some 73.3 million refunds totaling about $212.3 billion as of March 30, averaging $2,900.

"I haven't heard about any disasters," says Howard Gleckman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute. And he gives the IRS credit for doing a good job this season of keeping up with scams.

Still, the numbers that really count are the IRS budget figures. After years of Congress' cuts, "The IRS doesn't have remotely enough money to do what it needs to do," Gleckman said. "There's going to be huge challenges out there."

During President Barack Obama's tenure, Republicans controlling the congressional purse strings accused the IRS of liberal bias and unfair targeting of conservative tax-exempt groups.

This year, with the new tax law looming, Congress was more willing to open its wallet for the IRS and rejected to an extent the Trump administration's proposed cuts. But it ended up cutting in other areas, with the result that the agency budget is about the same — $11.5 billion — as in recent years.

"The IRS remains mindful of the need to do everything possible to provide taxpayers ... with secure, high-quality assistance and services, through every available channel," Kautter — who does double duty as the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy — said in testimony Wednesday to a House Appropriations subcommittee.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, sounded a warning. "For years the IRS has faced Republican budget cuts that undermine their ability to go after tax cheats. Audits of America's wealthiest taxpayers have dropped dramatically," he said in a statement. "Meanwhile, the IRS is implementing a tax law that's ripe for exploitation. With every high-priced lawyer gaming the system there is a middle-class family stuck with the financial consequence of a shrinking tax base."

The House tax-writing committee, meanwhile, approved a series of bipartisan bills Wednesday aimed at changing the way the IRS operates. They would, for example, create an independent appeals process to help taxpayers resolve disputes with the agency, bolster programs that provide tax assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled people and immigrants, and crack down on fraud by tax preparer businesses that prey on unwary people. The agency would have to submit a plan for revamping its customer service strategy.

The Ways and Means panel dispatched the legislation to the full House for a vote.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
California to join Guard border mission, but with conditions
California Gov. Jerry Brown has agreed to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border at President Donald Trump's request but says they'll focus on combating drug crime not immigration
8:30AM ( 12 minutes ago )
$30,000 rumor? Tabloid paid for, spiked, salacious Trump tip
The company that publishes the National Enquirer paid a former doorman at one of Donald Trump's New York skyscrapers $30,000 during the presidential campaign for a tip about Trump it never ran
7:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Anchorage voters first in the nation to reject bathroom bill
Residents of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, became the first voters in the nation to reject a so-called bathroom bill at the ballot
2:12AM ( 6 hours ago )
U.S. News
Trump tweets about conspiracies he sees behind challenges
Trump points to conspiracies in the challenges facing his administration
8:19AM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: France says it has proof Syria used chlorine
President Emmanuel Macron says France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks
8:10AM ( 32 minutes ago )
Russia says Syrian government now in control of rebel town
Russian military: Syrian government is now in full control of town near Damascus, site of suspected chemical attack
8:06AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
China denies Xi comments aimed at settling US dispute
China denies President Xi Jinping's promises to cut import tariffs on cars and open China's markets wider meant to be an overture to settle a tariff dispute with Washington
7:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
It's playoff time: The NBA's first-round pairings are set
The brackets for the NBA playoffs are set, and some rematches await _ including Golden State vs. San Antonio
1:53AM ( 6 hours ago )
Beantown Brawl! Yankees fight to 10-7 win over Red Sox
Tyler Austin rushed the mound after being hit by a pitch from Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly, triggering a bench-clearing brawl in a ramped-up rivalry as the New York Yankees ended Boston's nine-game winning streak with a 10-7 victory
12:33AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP National News
Report: Missouri Gov. Greitens initiated unwanted sex acts
A woman has testified that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens initiated a physically aggressive unwanted sexual encounter with her and threatened to distribute a partially nude photo of her if she spoke about it
11:43PM ( 9 hours ago )
Friend: Mom sent 3 a.m. text days before SUV cliff crash
Emergency call records from Washington state show one of the mothers who died when an SUV plunged off a California cliff sent a text after child protective services visited, saying she was so sick she might have to go to a hospital
10:15PM ( 10 hours ago )
California joins Guard border mission, shuns Trump's message
California Gov. Jerry Brown accepts President Donald Trump's call to send the National Guard to the Mexican border
10:03PM ( 10 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Facing strikes, France's Macron defends economic vision
Facing waves of strikes, French President Emmanuel Macron is appearing on national television to respond to the concerns of the French and defend his economic plans, which he says are aimed at modernizing the country.
5:38AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Ryan's wife happy _ and tearful _ he's quitting
House Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement that he won't seek another term has made his wife happy _ and a little tearful
11:56PM ( 8 hours ago )
'Resistance warriors' gather as Dems debate midterm strategy
'Resistance warriors' gather as anti-Trump liberals fight to push Democratic Party to the left
11:18PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Is Facebook regulation 'inevitable'? Not so fast
Is Facebook regulation 'inevitable'? Not so fast
7:43PM ( 13 hours ago )
As Trump fumes, senators bid to protect the special counsel
Four senators _ two Republicans and two Democrats _ are taking a step to protect special counsel Robert Mueller's job as President Donald Trump muses about firing him
7:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
Report: Greitens was aggressor in unwanted sexual encounter
A woman has testified that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens initiated a physically aggressive unwanted sexual encounter with her and threatened to distribute a partially nude photo of her if she spoke about it
7:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Hino, VW partner on hybrids, autonomous drive, technology
Hino Motors, Toyota's group truck manufacturer, and Volkswagen Truck & Bus of Germany are working together in a partnership on various technologies such as hybrids, electric cars, autonomous driving and connectivity
7:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
World trade body warns US-China tensions could dent business
The World Trade Organization is predicting continued trade growth this year, though its chief warns that trade tensions and "tit-for-tat" retaliatory measures _ notably between the U.S. and China _ could compromise those upbeat projections.
6:08AM ( 2 hours ago )
Asian, European shares lower as geopolitical concerns weigh
Asian, European shares slip as investors digest Fed minutes but geopolitical concerns overshadow sentiment
5:35AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business
FIFA looks for $25 billion, 12-year deal for new tournaments
FIFA is planning to team up with Saudi Arabian, Chinese and American investors in a $25 billion, 12-year deal that could add two major international tournaments to an already crowded soccer calendar
5:59AM ( 1 day ago )
China president's conciliatory trade gesture raises optimism
China's president offers US possible trade concessions, raising hopes for end to standoff
5:28PM ( 1 day ago )
Letter to Panama's president from Trump Organization lawyers
The text of the letter from the Britton & Iglesias law firm to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, as translated by The Associated Press
3:41PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
California to join Guard border mission, but with conditions
California Gov. Jerry Brown has agreed to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border at President Donald Trump's request but says they'll focus on combating drug crime not immigration
8:30AM ( 12 minutes ago )
$30,000 rumor? Tabloid paid for, spiked, salacious Trump tip
The company that publishes the National Enquirer paid a former doorman at one of Donald Trump's New York skyscrapers $30,000 during the presidential campaign for a tip about Trump it never ran
7:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Anchorage voters first in the nation to reject bathroom bill
Residents of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, became the first voters in the nation to reject a so-called bathroom bill at the ballot
2:12AM ( 6 hours ago )
Report: Missouri Gov. Greitens slapped, grabbed woman
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says affair was 'entirely consensual relationship' but the woman with whom he had an affair says he spanked, slapped, grabbed and shoved her during sexual encounters
12:45AM ( 7 hours ago )
Accusers confront Bill Cosby, and they aren't holding back
Women who say Bill Cosby knocked them out with intoxicants and sexually assaulted them decades ago are finally getting a chance to confront him and they aren't holding back
12:26AM ( 8 hours ago )