Treasury goal: Fair and effective reform to modernize federal financial management, accounting, and tax systems
The purpose of this treasury goal involves our tax system which is in a sad need of overall. Having an objective such as this does not mean there are actions to make changes to our tax system and in actuality this department cannot take such action. This responsibility belongs to Congress but this entity can provide some suggestions but they need to benefit individuals and businesses alike not penalize them with tax rates and regulations. The words of this goal are: “fairly and effectively reform and modernize federal financial management, accounting, and tax systems.”
The first sub element addresses the need for improving efficiency and transparency of federal management and government wide accounting. Efficiency and transparency in the same sentence seems like they are misplaced given the financial problems of several government entities in being able to track where the money they receive is spent. Any streamlining of tracking the tax expenditures of any government entity would be well received. Government gets billions of tax dollars and common sense accounting would require traceability.
One suggested action in this sub element addresses the need to implement shared-service model for financial management across government. One interesting point in the actions identified to be taken was a surprise when I first read them. It talks about reducing the number of different financial systems and adopting a uniform accounting, reporting and data standards. This is surprising in that a uniform system should have already been in place when taxes were first being received. All government entities need to be using the same financial standards and processes. In addition it is important that timely and accurate financial information can and does aid in making decisions. If the data is bad then bad decisions have a greater chance of occurring while reliable data can lead to good decisions. The Bureau of the Fiscal Service and Domestic are supporting programs in this endeavor.
As with any goal it is important to have methods of evaluating whether they are achieved. One such example in the overall goal and this sub element involves tracking cost per government agency to determine how efficient the treasury department manages government investment and borrowing opportunities. A new program titled the DO NOT PAY is planning to examine how to identify, mitigate and prevent fraud, waste and abuse in federally funded programs. This is a critical program which should have been in place long ago. I am not sure how new this program is but the fact that it is a part of this treasury goal is significant. Fraud is known to be in existence in many if not all government programs and discovering these activities achieves a better use of government tax dollars. When fraud is discovered the full extent of the law should be brought to bear on individuals or organizations who commit such acts.
In support of the sub element discussed above is the commitment to: “Improve the disbursement and collection of federal funds and reduce improper payments made by the U.S. government” Providing timely, accurate and efficient collection of government receipts in addition to implementing standards and procedures for the federal government in this endeavor.
Again the Bureau of the Fiscal Service and Domestic Finance is involved in this activity.
As part of the evaluation process is potential measures which should not be potential but firm involve treasury payments and the information be made electronically. Associated with this is the need to identify the total amount of federal government receipts also collected electronically.
This last sub element includes a topic dear to our hearts, tax policy. The actions identified with this element involve developing tax legislative proposal for annual budget that advance tax code reforms. As an addition to this the aim is to provide taxpayers with targeted and timely guidance. Guidance is the key in this activity as getting the same answer to a tax question from multiple individuals is not an easy task to achieve. Another aspect involves refund fraud which has been in the news in recent weeks. Fraud prevention through advancements in automation to provide prompt assistance in support of identity theft in this aspect is important. Anything this entity can do with regards to this problem will not only help individuals it will help eliminate dispersing refunds which are not going to the right individuals and in some cases the returns being filed have fraudulent information. Contributing treasury programs and activities include the IRS, tax policy and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
Examples of measures being considered involve individual tax returns being processed electronically and voluntary and timely compliance from taxpayers who file more than $50,000 in tax payments annually. In addition the treasure plans to conduct more in-depth evaluations in support of this sub element. Some include the IRS Joint Statistical Research Program (JSRP) uses statistics of income tax data to study the effects of existing tax policies on individuals, businesses, and the economy. Also, TTB will continue to improve efficiencies and results in its tax enforcement program by improving its systems and processes related to tax verification, increasing automation in the detection, notification, assessment, and collection of excise taxes in order focus its resources on substantive tax analysis and enforcement.
Studying the effects of existing tax policies on individuals, businesses and the economy does not seem to be either being performed or the results are being ignored not necessarily by this department. Tax reform has been a topic of several federal legislative sessions and action needs to be taken not just the talk about making changes to the tax system. There have been several suggestions some from the private sector such as the Fair Tax. This suggestion along with others needs to be evaluated and the best suggestion or a combination of them needs to be put in legislation to fix our tax system once and for all. Additionally the IRS was first established by Congress in 1862 to help finance the Civil War; it was renamed from the Bureau of Internal Revenue to the Internal Revenue Service in 1953 and extensively reorganized by Congress in 1998 around a private sector model of customer service.