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Norquist: IRS budget complaints bogus

The IRS is employing scare tactics by slowing refunds in the face of budget cuts, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said Wednesday.

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John Koskinen, the IRS commissioner, told agency staffers this week that a $346 million budget cut could even force the IRS to shut down for two days, and raised the specter of reducing efforts to rein in tax cheats and identity thieves.

But Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform said Wednesday that Koskinen was going out of his way to make the cuts more painful than they had to be.

“Koskinen is telling the world that he's not competent and capable enough to manage the IRS with the budget that Congress gave him," Norquist said. "He should apologize for taking a job he's not ready for and step down and be replaced by somebody capable. 

The organization charged the commissioner with using what they called the “Washington Monument Strategy,” comparing the IRS’s moves to the National Park Service cutting off tours to the monument in response to a budget cut.

But it’s not just Koskinen and the IRS criticizing the GOP-driven budget cuts at the agency.

The national taxpayer advocate, an in-house watchdog of the IRS, also stressed in its annual report on Wednesday that declines in customer service are the biggest problem currently facing taxpayers.

Nina Olson, the advocate, said budget cuts have played a central role in the IRS’s issues with answering phone calls and taxpayer questions.