Press Release

For Immediate Release   Contact:  Jim Campi
October 1, 1997(202) 467-5300


(Washington, D.C.) – Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) President Thomas A. Schatz issued the following statement today in support of recommendations made by the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service.

“The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste has been a vocal critic of the IRS for many years, and has long advocated a major overhaul of the agency’s internal policies and the tax code itself.  We applaud the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS for its hard work in bringing us to the brink of real reform.

“The IRS’s penchant for waste and abuse is well-documented.  The commission found that the key failures of the IRS are related to lack of expertise, lack of accountability at both the IRS and the Treasury Department, and lack of continuity among senior IRS officials.  The IRS ranks dead last in customer service in a survey of 200 leading public and private sector organizations: one-half of its 22 percent error rate in processing tax returns is the fault of incorrect input by employees; the complexity of the tax code interferes with performance; and only one in five calls to the IRS service hotline got through in 1996.”

“While these administrative snafus are serious enough, the public should be outraged and members of Congress should be embarrassed by the testimony we heard at last week’s unprecedented IRS oversight hearings before the Senate Finance Committee.   Taxpayers learned of an IRS culture that encourages brutal harassment of honest taxpayers, and goes to great lengths to cover up its practices by destroying internal documents.  The IRS further stonewalls oversight by claiming that any information it provides contains taxpayer information and therefore must, by law, remain confidential.  Another egregious IRS abuse uncovered in the hearings was the huge increase in audits of middle and low-income taxpayers who are targeted precisely because they lack the resources to fight back.”

“The major reform offered by the commission is the creation of an independent seven-member board of directors, effectively seizing management control of the IRS from the Treasury Department.  The board would set strategy, establish priorities, and design the agency’s budget, while leaving the Treasury Department in charge of tax policy.  Under the commission plan, the board will also be responsible for appointing the IRS commissioner for a five-year term.  Make no mistake that critics of independent oversight, including Treasury and the White House, have continued to defend the indefensible status quo at the IRS.  Another critical reform would hold IRS agents personally accountable for abuse of taxpayers.

“These management changes, while critical, are only the first step.  Congress, by legislating an increasingly complex and punitive tax code, shares some of the blame for the chaos at the IRS.  Without the overhaul of our tax system and its replacement with a flat tax, the task of reforming the IRS can never be complete.”

CCAGW is a 600,000-member lobbying group dedicated to enacting legislation to eliminate waste, inefficiency and mismanagement in the federal government.

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