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The IRS Is Still Kicking, Despite Hysterics Over Budget Cuts

After Internal Revenue Service chief John Koskinen warned budget cuts could delay tax returns and hinder taxpayer services this year, the agency announced Thursday the filing season is going just fine.

The IRS has already issued more refunds than it did at the same time last year — 19.7 million refunds worth more than $66 billion — the agency said in an update Thursday.

And more people are taking advantage of online services, meaning they’re unaffected by staff shortages. The site has been visited more than 100 million times this year, compared to 85 million this time last year, the update said. And of the 27.5 million tax returns filed so far, more than 96 percent were filed online.

Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million in the 2015 spending bill, forcing the agency to instate a hiring freeze and get rid of thousands of staffers. Koskinen said the staff cuts could result in delayed refunds and a lot of unanswered phone calls. (RELATED: IRS Does Not Let Elderly People Leave Phone Messages)

He has also repeatedly warned the cuts could force him to shut down the entire agency for a few days. “This year we are looking at a situation where realistically we have no choice but to do less with less,” he said in a letter to his staffers, obtained by The Hill. “While we will continue to do the best we can to avoid this action, the cuts in the budget are so deep that we may have no other choice.”

Some conservative congressmen relished cutting its budget, after IRS staffers were caught in 2013 targeting Tea Party groups. (RELATED: Ted Cruz: Abolish The IRS)

Since 2010, the agency has absorbed $1 billion in cuts and has between 16,00 and 17,000 fewer staffers.

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