The Bush Administration has so far been unable to win a full repeal of the estate tax, which would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the national debt. Yet, a major newspaper recently exposed the Administration's plan to layoff 157 of 345 tax attorneys who audit estate and gift tax returns at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by September 30. This decision requires substantial clarification. With no Congressional review whatsoever of this plan, I don't see how political appointees at the IRS can deny charges that these layoffs are intended to weaken enforcement of tax laws that the Administration opposes.
My Democratic colleagues and I have requested that IRS Commissioner Mark Everson immediately delay this decision until Congress has adequate time to review the plan. "The IRS has repeatedly told Congress that the problem of the wealthiest Americans failing to pay the true amount of taxes owed is a growing problem. Therefore, we cannot understand why you would want to eliminate auditors from a division that is not only the most productive, but also, according to your agency, where there is a growing need for audits," we wrote. "We would appreciate clarification about the exact workload of these auditors, the distribution of cases by the amount of taxable estate value, and how their possible elimination will affect tax collection for this division of the IRS." In short, with fewer auditors, how will the IRS keep up with audits of those who are not adequately paying taxes on gifts?
More information and a copy of our letter to Commissioner Everson are available online at: