Cuts to IRS budget boon to criminals, tax cheats and hackers: Ron Wyden says

Proposed cuts to the IRS’s budget, saying the move is a boon to tax cheats and hackers says Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon. The ranking member on the Finance Committee, said in a letter Wednesday that past and pending budget cuts have forced the tax agency to pull back on its enforcement work and technology infrastructure. The end result, he argued in his letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, is that more tax fraud and further cyberattacks on taxpayer information are coming.

“Shouldn’t the American public view diminished enforcement and reduced IT spending for what they really are: tax cuts for tax cheats and kickbacks to crime syndicates?” he wrote.

Wyden argued that cyberattacks on government agencies amount to “an attack on the homeland” and cutting the budget of the affected agency makes no sense.

“I do not know of any member of Congress who would respond to an attack on the nation by cutting the resources to the agencies or persons who were the targets of the attack,” he wrote.

He also said that when other government agencies, such as the Office of Personnel Management, have been victims of cyberattacks, lawmakers have responded by boosting technology funding for those agencies. That’s not the case with the IRS, which said in May hackers obtained confidential taxpayer information for more than 100,000 taxpayers.

Officials believe the cyber attacks to be the work of foreign crime syndicates, led to the filing of fake returns and claims of $39 million in improperly paid tax refunds.

Senate appropriations legislation would slash the IRS’s budget by $470 million.

Meanwhile, the White House is pushing for a 72 percent increase to the IRS’s cybersecurity funding, updating its budget request in August in the wake of the security breach.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.