Updated-Joint Finance Passes DOR’s Additional Auditors and Expanded Powers

MacIver News Service | May 15, 2013

***Updated 2:45 pm***

With the IRS scandal continuing to unfold at the national level, State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) earlier today asked the Joint Finance Committee to change Governor Walker’s budget so that “something similar” won’t happen here.

State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) sent an email this morning to the Republican members of the Joint Committee on Finance asking them to “delete the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s request for additional auditors and expanded powers (including unlimited access to numerous state databases) from the 2013-15 Biennial Budget.”

According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Governor Scott Walker has included in his budget proposal “61.0 additional positions and related funding for enhanced Audit and Compliance Bureau tax collection activities” for the Department of Revenue.

The additional funding and positions would be used for delinquent tax and debt collection activities, to increase enforcement of state tax laws based on federal audit reports, to prevent and reduce fraudulent refund and tax credit claims.

The Governor has requested an additional 122 positions and $12,614,800 in funding for the Department. However, when these increases are coupled with the Governor’s required saving lapses, the net effect would be increase of $3,734,400 in funding and 61 positions over the biennium.

“No one should feel comfortable right now based on the alleged un-American activities of the IRS,” Rep. Nass wrote in his email. “That is why these requests should be stripped from the budget.”

Despite Nass’ concerns, the Finance Committee passed the Governor’s recommendations with only minor changes. Rep. Nass immediately criticized the vote, saying “the decision was based solely on the desire to collect more revenue from taxpayers.”

One change to the Governor’s proposal the committee did approve came from Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine). Mason proposed motion 216, which would expand the “poor people” fraud investigation and penalty provisions found in the Governor’s proposal to cover income and corporate tax credit programs as well. Rep. Mason commented that his motion would create “a level playing field.” Motion 216 passed the committee unanimously.

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