House panel approves IRS funding cut

The full House Appropriations Committee approved a spending measure that would slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the IRS budget.

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House Republicans are seeking to give the IRS $10.95 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, roughly $1.5 billion what President Obama wants and around $341 million less than the agency gets this year.

The House Appropriations Committee also tucked in a provision requiring the IRS follow federal standards for safekeeping records.

The IRS has been mired in controversy for more than a year now, ever since Lois Lerner acknowledged that the agency singled out Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.

That controversy deepened in recent weeks after the IRS said that some of emails from 2009 to 2011 couldn’t be recovered because of a computer crash.

Lerner, the former head of the IRS division overseeing tax-exempt groups, is the central figure in congressional investigations. The National Archives said this week that the agency didn’t follow the Federal Records Act when it failed to inform the archivist that Lerner’s emails were missing.

The IRS has said recent funding cuts have kept it from making needed information technology investments. Senate appropriators are seeking to give the agency a slight boost in funding.

Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said the cuts would only hurt taxpayers in the end.

“Unanswered phone calls, long wait times for reduced in-person help, delayed responses to correspondence, and inability to provide help to those taxpayers who need it most—these are the consequences of decisions such as the one made today by House appropriators,” Kelley said in a statement.