IRS needs stronger oversight

“IRS agents shouldn’t work from home” was the headline of an opinion article written by the U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and published in the March 4 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

Estes, a Republican representing Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, hit the proverbial nail on the head when he wrote, “Some might argue that teleworking, with reduced overhead, offers a tax-saving benefit, but that’s realized only if the agency is providing adequate customer service. The IRS isn’t.”

Anyone who doubts the accuracy or honesty of Estes’ statement needs only to talk with some of the taxpayers who have been waiting in excess of two years for amended returns they filed using IRS Form 1040-X to be processed and their refunds issued.

Many of those people consider the IRS’ performance regarding their returns to be abysmal and incompetent, despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic.

When such taxpayers learn that, perhaps, more than 50% of IRS tax-return processors still are working from home, no wonder they suspect that the amount of out-of-office work time is contributing to the amended-returns fiasco.

The IRS needs to face that there are many more distractions to the employee working at home than there would be if that worker was performing his or her duties in a workplace setting — a setting where questions and problems can be resolved more quickly than if the issues evolve in the home environment.

Long-held amended returns wait — wherever — while taxpayers who need their refund money wait, also, although amid mounting frustration — and the IRS’ work-from-home decision-makers don’t seem to feel much, if any, urgency.

Why, like the IRS, has Congress been procrastinating?

— Williamsport Sun-Gazette


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