IRS Warns Of Slower Tax Refunds, More Identity Theft Risk

PHOTO: The deadline to file taxes is midnight on April 15.PlayBrandon Rose/Getty Images
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Coming soon from the IRS: Slower tax refunds, fewer identity-theft protections and worse customer service.

That’s the word in an alarming email obtained by ABC News and sent to IRS employees today by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The only possible silver lining (especially for tax cheats): fewer audits. To be specific: 46,000 fewer audits this year and 1,800 fewer IRS enforcement officers.

That’s because the IRS budget has been slashed so deeply – the lowest inflation-adjusted budget in nearly two decades -- that Koskinen says “we have no choice but to do less with less.”

The Commissioner writes that the budget cuts will mean a slower and less helpful IRS.

“We now anticipate an even lower level of telephone service than before,” Koskinen writes, “which raises the real possibility that fewer than half of taxpayers trying to call us will actually reach us.”

Refund checks will be delayed by a week or longer and planned new identity-theft protections will be delayed.

Spending less on the IRS’s budget will actually cost taxpayers more money. Koskinen says the enforcement cut-back will cost the Treasury some $2 billion in lost tax revenue.

Here’s the Commissioners email: