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Budget Cuts at The IRS Spell Disaster for Many Taxpayers.

No one really loves to pay taxes, however most people buckle down this time of year, grit their teeth and do their duty as U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, this most unpleasant duty is becoming more difficult in light of recent budget cuts at the IRS. In the past, the IRS has offered services to help Americans navigate the complicated tax codes. There were robust customer service programs that included telephone help as well as walk-in centers. Now, according to a recent MainStreet article, "Today the IRS refuses to answer any but the most basic questions on tax law. The agency has also discontinued all help for off-season requests leaving, for example, anyone who has to file quarterly estimated taxes (a relatively complicated process) on his own. (www.mainstreet.com) Anyone who has previously filed his or her own taxes may become overwhelmed this year as a result of many changes to the tax code. Making sure taxes are filed on time and correctly is the taxpayer's problem. So, those who have not paid to have their taxes prepared in the past may now be forced into paying to have their taxes done just to avoid any fees, interest and penalties that could result from making a mistake. This also sets the stage for unscrupulous tax preparers to take advantage of those who think someone else can get them bigger returns. (See last month's blog on tax scammers.) It may also lead to more people just throwing up their hands in frustration and not filing at all. What will an already understaffed IRS do? How many taxpayers will go unnoticed for how long? And, heaven forbid if they get found. The fees, penalties and interest could be staggering. Budget cuts just don't cut it for the IRS or for the American taxpayer.

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