CBS Defends IRS Against Republican ‘Payback’ Cuts to IRS Budget

IRS promises cuts will cause poor customer service, inability to track Obamacare money.

The public may have little use for the IRS, but CBS rose to the federal agency’s defense on Jan. 15, 2015. National Correspondent Wyatt Andrews spun against budget cuts and accused Republican’s of political “payback” for the IRS targeting scandal.

CBS “This Morning” defended the IRS against budget cuts claiming they “could have serious consequences for Americans this tax season.” These cuts were Congressional Republicans’ “payback for the targeting scandal when IRS officials investigated mostly conservative groups applying for tax exempt status,” according to CBS.

Buried at the end of the story was a quick mention of how “the budget cuts will hurt the IRS’s ability to track the billions given to taxpayers under ObamaCare.”

“If you think that cutting the IRS’s budget is punishing the IRS, it’s not. Who you're punishing are the United States taxpayers. You're punishing yourself,” Andrews said.

Andrews complained that taxpayers would be on hold longer because of the budget cuts. The IRS “historically has answered those calls in under four minutes,” he said before adding that budget cuts would mean that “this year most people wanting to speak to a live representative will not get through at all and the wait for those who do get through will exceed 30 minutes.”

Andrews included an IRS spokesperson who made a similar claim.

Nina Olsen, the taxpayer advocate at the IRS, told CBS “This Morning” that this year people “should bring their knitting when they call the IRS, they can do something on the phone while they're waiting,” because of how long the wait could be. Olsen warned taxpayers “to expect the worst customer service the IRS has delivered in a decade.”

But it unclear how many people will need to call the IRS at all. Associated Press reported on April 9, 2014, “[a]ccording to the IRS, 90% of filers either pay a tax preparer or use computer software to help them fill out their returns.”

According to the Jan. 13, 2015, USA Today, “The Internal Revenue Service will lose 1,800 tax collectors through attrition and do 46,000 fewer audits this year because of congressional budget cuts to the tax agency, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told IRS employees Tuesday.”

CBS wasn’t the only network to staunchly defend the IRS against the budget cuts. On Jan. 14, 2015, ABC’s “Good Morning America” co-host George Stephanopoulos lamented that “fewer audits means less revenue to the Treasury” to run the federal government and then asked ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl if there was “any chance that this can get fixed this year or is it a lost cause for this year.”

— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.