2013 budget ups IRS funding, allows for staff increases

Wednesday - 2/15/2012, 9:00pm EST

Colleen Kelley, president, NTEU

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The administration's official 2013 budget request trims many agency budgets. But at least one is bucking the trend.

The budget for the IRS, according to the White House request unveiled Monday, would increase by nearly $1 billion.

The 2013 request would fund the agency at $12.8 billion, which is $950 million more than the agency was granted in congressional appropriations for 2012.

Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents some 84,000 IRS employees, told In Depth with Francis Rose that if Congress acts upon the President's budget request, IRS staffing levels would increase by about 4,000 positions.

"The reason this is important for all federal agencies and for the country is because the IRS collects 93 percent of all government revenues," Kelley said. "So that means that the money that they collect actually provides the funding for every other federal agency and all the programs that our country and our citizens depend on."

'Step in the right direction'

Kelley added that funding for the agency should be viewed as "an investment for economic recovery."

The IRS has been roiled by staff turnover for the past couple of years, Kelley said. In the last two years, alone, she added, the agency hasn't been able to hire enough people to cover for those who've left.

There are now 20,000 fewer IRS employees than there were in 1995, she said. "And there are many more taxpayers in this country, many more tax returns being filed." Some of that is because of technological advances, Kelley acknowledged, with many returns now filed electronically. "But not to the level we have seen the workforce cut. That's the problem," she added.

While the 4,000-employee increase is only a dent in the decline in employees, Kelley called it a "giant step in the right direction."

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