WASHINGTON, D.C. — In defiance of federal law, the Internal Revenue Service has failed to produce annual reports on ways to reduce tax complexity, the National Taxpayer Advocate said in its Annual Report to Congress released this week.

Under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, the agency is required to provide annual recommendations “for reducing the complexity of the administration of Federal tax laws; and for repeal or modification of any provision the Commissioner believes adds undue and unnecessary complexity to the administration of the Federal tax laws.”

But as noted by the National Taxpayer Advocate, the agency has not bothered to produce such a report since 2002. Only two such reports have ever been issued, in 2000 and 2002.

“The IRS has enough time to harass taxpayer groups and bully churches but not enough staff to produce the legally mandated annual report on how to improve their own performance,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “An unexamined life is a waste. An unexamined bureaucracy is a threat to taxpayers and all living things.”

Each year, Americans spend six billion hours complying with the four million word Internal Revenue Code. As the NTA report states, “As the tax administrator, only the IRS has certain data about complexity, and its short reports [in 2000 and 2002] probably helped both the IRS and Congress to identify and address key problem areas.”

But the IRS apparently can’t be bothered to compile the report. When asked by the NTA to explain themselves, the IRS said it would require “about two full time employees working for about a year” to produce the report. 

It is difficult to believe that the IRS, with 82,982 employees, cannot find two employees to carry out such important work. 

As the NTA points out, the IRS’s refusal to compile these reports is actually making their jobs harder:

“While the IRS would need to spend some resources to produce the complexity report, these costs pale in comparison to the costs of complexity. Moreover, if they prompt a reduction in tax complexity, the reports might ultimately help the IRS do its job and reduce the cost of administering the tax code.”

Perhaps if the agency wasn’t filling its days harassing tea party groups, taking junkets, making Star Trek and Gilligan’s Island parody videos, and charging Nerf footballs, kazoos, and $140 meals on agency credit cards, they could find the time to follow the law and make life easier for the American taxpayer.

The full NTA report may be accessed here.