The Obama Administration has quietly ended a tax assistance program that assisted low-income Americans file their taxes, despite Congress fully funding the program. Instead, the administration has given millions of dollars to liberal groups to perform the same role.
According to a report by the Daily Caller, the administration is giving $12 million in federal grants to community service groups through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program in place of the federal program. Unsurprisingly, many of the largest grants issued under this program have gone to groups that have close political ties to the Obama Administration. A recent investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that these so-called “volunteer community groups” had a 49 percent failure rate.
The IRS justified the elimination of this program as a “resource management decision.” However, it is clearly a move by the Obama Administration to provide backdoor funding to its liberal allies. As ATR’s Ryan Ellis points out:
“There is a long history of using supposedly neutral government resources to fund the activists and organizers who have all sorts of agendas. It’s not surprising at all that they would be using IRS resources to essentially subsidize some of these organizations.”
According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s Annual Report to Congress, the administration cancelled the tax assistance program without properly evaluating the impact it would have on low-income Americans. The tax assistance program had enjoyed longstanding bipartisan support and the program was fully funded by congress despite other parts of the IRS budget facing cutbacks.
This degradation of taxpayer assistance comes at a time when filing taxes is more complex than ever, in part due to several Obamacare provisions coming into effect this year including the employer mandate and the individual mandate. In fact, IRS commissioner John Koskinen raised concerns late last year that the 2015 tax filing season could be delayed, in part due to Obamacare.