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High-Tech Lobbying Of IRS Grows, Study Finds

A study found that high-tech companies are at the forefront of the effort to influence U.S. tax policy.
WASHINGTON — Lobbying the IRS has become a big business here, and a study released Tuesday (April 12) found that high-tech companies are at the forefront of the effort to influence U.S. tax policy.

The Center for Public Integrity found that nearly 500 companies and organizations lobbied the IRS from 1998 to 2004, including technology companies like Computer Sciences Corp., No. 2 on the watchdog group's list. Other high-tech companies on the list and their spending rank were: Microsoft Corp. (No. 82); IBM Corp. (No. 133); Intel Corp. (No. 135); Matsushita Electric Industrial (No. 134); and Texas Instruments Inc. (No. 144).

Among the industry groups ranked by the Center were CTIA - The Wireless Association (No. 6), the American Electronics Association (No. 31), Information Technology Association of America (No. 96), Computer & Communications Industry Association (No. 121) and the Software & Information Industry Association (No. 145).

The study's authors said the IRS is among the top 30 most frequently lobbied federal agencies.

"There is this assumption that lobbying begins at the doors of Capitol Hill, but that is a fallacy," said Keith Ashdown, vice president for policy and communications at the federal-budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense. Many private companies have found that lobbying federal agencies, including the IRS, has been "very effective," he added.

Some companies like Computer Sciences Corp. have spent lavishly on lobbying the IRS not so much to shape tax policy but to influence congressional budget allocations. According to the Center, the bigger the IRS budget, the more the agency will spend on computers.