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IRS gets no big funding boost in omnibus

The IRS, weighed down by its targeting controversy from last year, would see little change in its funding under a new bipartisan spending bill.

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Congressional appropriators have earmarked $11.3 billion in fiscal 2014 funding for the tax-collecting agency, a level that House Republicans say “maintains the majority of the sequestration funding cuts for the IRS.”

John Koskinen, the newly installed IRS commissioner, has urged lawmakers to give his agency a funding boost, as has the nation’s taxpayer advocate.

But for now at least, those requests have fallen on deaf ears. The IRS had been operating at an $11.2 billion funding level. It previously had received some $12.1 billion in fiscal 2010 funding, and President Obama had asked for close to $13 billion for 2014.

IRS officials say that the agency needs new funding to bring it into the 21st century, and note that studies have shown that money for IRS enforcement measures can bring back at least several times that amount in new revenue.

Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, has also insisted that budget cuts have led to the IRS giving poorer services to people calling and writing to the agency for assistance

But congressional Republicans, never particularly sympathetic to those arguments, became even more entrenched against IRS funding increases after the agency acknowledged targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The House GOP originally sought a roughly 25 percent cut in IRS funding last year. The omnibus also ensures that certain funding goes directly toward beefing up taxpayer services, and fighting refund fraud and identity theft.

Appropriators included no specific new funding for implementation of the healthcare law, and calls for new reporting requirements on the agency’s spending and training.

The omnibus also prohibits funding for certain video productions, after the agency drew criticism for making a $60,000 Star Trek parody.