The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate was established in the 1996 by Republicans in Congress who wanted a watchdog within the IRS that would look out for ordinary taxpayers.
So it is interesting to hear what the current Taxpayer Advocate, a woman named Nina Olson, has to say about how today's Congress is treating taxpayers.
Olson just reported her latest annual report, and it has blistering words for the budget problems facing the agency, courtesy of Republicans in Congress. Olson paints a picture of an agency in crisis, with dire consequences for ordinary filers:
The most serious problem facing U.S. taxpayers is the combination of the IRS’s expanding workload and the limited resources available to the IRS to handle it.
Among the consequences:
1. The IRS is unable to adequately meet the service needs of the taxpaying public.
2. The IRS is unable to adequately detect and address noncompliance, requiring honest taxpayers to shoulder a disproportionately large share of the tax burden.
3. The IRS is unable to maximize revenue collection, contributing to the federal budget deficit.
The report offers up lots of details to support these points. For instance, Olson estimates the average honest taxpayer pays a "surtax" of $2,680 to subsidize all the tax cheats -- an estimate made before the release of the IRS latest analysis of how much money the U.S. Treasury loses to tax evasion -- $385 billion in 2006.