Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means unanimously approved bipartisan legislation that will dramatically refocus the IRS back to its “taxpayer first” mission.
Everyone knows the IRS needs top to bottom reform. From absurd wait times when calling the IRS, to property seizure abuse, this is an agency that desperately needs to be reined in to actually serve American taxpayers.
The bipartisan package of nine bills passed by the Committee advances a modern vision for the IRS so taxpayers are treated fairly, their disputes are handled objectively, and issues are resolved quickly and affordably.
One of the bills, HR 5444, the “Taxpayer First Act,” will create an independent appeals process to review taxpayer disputes with an impartial, fresh look so that taxpayers know they aren’t being treated unfairly. This bill will ensure that there’s a level playing field—that taxpayers have access to the same information as the IRS during the dispute resolution process.
The bill also adds needed reforms to the IRS’ enforcement tools so that our families and businesses don’t have to be worried about having their assets seized without proper, timely, and fair notices.
Additionally, the bill package permanently authorizes the Free File and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance programs, which provide tax filing assistance to low and moderate-income Americans.
And it requires the IRS to submit to Congress a thoughtful, comprehensive plan on how to restructure the agency by September 2020.
As Chairman Brady explained:
“We’re laying out the guardrails and architecture of what a new IRS would look like and requiring them to bring back the restructuring plan.”
As part of the bipartisan bill package, the Committee also passed HR 5445, the “21st Century IRS Act,” which takes steps to provide greater accountability, transparency, and security for IRS information technology (IT).
It’s clear the IRS’ IT is in desperate need of updating; the IRS has two of the ten oldest IT systems in the federal government, dating back to the 1960s.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins had this to say:
“In the era of 5G and broadband internet, it’s still hard to imagine why the IRS continues to use technology our children wouldn’t be able to recognize. That’s why we seek to eliminate fax machines and revamp the IT infrastructure so taxpayers have the peace of mind their most sensitive information is being responsibly protected by their government while using the technology they are used to.”
The IRS also continues to face serious cyber threats from around the world. In 2017, the agency received 242,000 reports of identity theft from taxpayers. The legislation passed by the Committee addresses these ongoing threats by:
- Fostering and strengthening the IRS’s partnership with states and the private sector as they continue to combat the threat of identity theft tax refund fraud;
- Creating a single point of contact for victims of identity theft to ensure that taxpayers can quickly and efficiently get their case resolved; and
- Strengthening IRS accountability for the billions of dollars spent on agency IT modernization efforts.
With this package of bills, the Committee is taking the biggest and boldest step in 20 years to redesign this agency into a place with one singular mission: taxpayer service.