Ways and Means unanimously advances provisions on workforce, retirement savings, redesigning the IRS

April 2, 2019 — Blog   

Today, the House Ways and Means Committee successfully cleared three bills – all sponsored by Committee Republicans and Democrats.  Among them, today’s legislation make timely technical corrections to America’s reemployment service program, help boost retirement savings, and redesign the IRS.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the Committee, said in his opening remarks:

“With wages continuing to rise for low-income workers, more job openings than there are workers to fill them, and financial optimism at all-time highs, all three of the bills we are considering today will help this economic success continue for years to come.”

Getting Folks Back To Work

The first bill the Committee considered was H.R. 1759, the Building on Reemployment Improvements to Deliver Good Employment for Workers Act – or BRIDGE for Workers Act.

Led by Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Darin LaHood (R-IL), and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), the BRIDGE for Workers Act makes a time-sensitive fix to America’s unemployment insurance program – specifically Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessments (RESEA).

Passed last year as part of a federal funding package, H.R. 1759 clarifies that states have the flexibility to provide reemployment services to more people who may have lost their job, through no fault of their own, so they can get back to work quicker.

Rep. Walorski said:

“This legislation build upon the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 where we made a significant step forward in helping those unemployed through no fault of their own by pairing unemployment benefits with services. . . . RESEA is an important reemployment tool.”

The Committee unanimously approved the BRIDGE for Workers Act.

Helping Families Save More and Earlier for Retirement

Last year, as part of Tax Reform 2.0, the House passed with bipartisan support the Family Savings Act as well as H.R. 88 – two pieces of legislation to enhance retirement savings vehicles for families while making it easier for Main Street businesses to offer retirement plans to their workers.

Building on those reforms, the Committee today debated H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 – or the SECURE Act.

Led by Rep. Brady and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), as well as Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA)Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Ron Kind (D-WI), the SECURE Act reforms the rules surrounding 401(k)s and IRAs.

The legislation does so by easing administrative burdens for businesses who offer these plans for their workers.  It also modifies current age requirements: the current age limit for making contributions to traditional IRAs is eliminated; and people are now required to pull from their accounts at the age of 72, instead of 70 and a half under current law.

Additionally, the SECURE Act builds on the expansions made to 529 education savings accounts as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, allowing 529s to be used for costs associated with apprenticeships, homeschooling, and student loans.

Rep. Brady said:

“With the reforms in the SECURE Act, our tax code will give Americans more flexibility to save in a manner that they believe best.  It is a great way to continue to improve the pro-growth tax code we have today.”

Rep. Kelly added:

“This has truly been a joint effort. . . . It is about bringing peace of mind to the people who built this country and who continue to build this country. . . . This is a tremendous win for the American people.” 

Rep. Buchanan said:

“This will make a big difference . . . in helping people start saving earlier.”

The Committee unanimously approved the SECURE Act.

Bringing the IRS into the 21st Century

The last bill that the Committee brought forward today was H.R. 1957, the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, led by Rep. Kelly, the top Republican on the Oversight Subcommittee, and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA). This legislation is the first major structural reforms to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in over two decades.

Reforms included in H.R. 1957 passed the House with broad bipartisan support three times last year.

The provisions in this bipartisan, bicameral package refocus the IRS to live up to its current mission of serving American taxpayers.  Additionally, it strengthens the agency’s ability to proactively combat identity theft and improves oversight of information technology spending at the IRS.

The Taxpayer First Act also reins in certain IRS enforcement powers, tampering potential future abuse.

Rep. Kelly said:

“The bill places emphasis on customer service . . . taking care of those who take care of our nation. . . . There should be no time in any Americans’ life where they are struck with fear because they or their business got a letter from the IRS.  It needs to become a customer-service centered organization.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) also discussed a provision in the bill that makes permanent the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), an initiative that offers free assistance to taxpayers with low incomes, individuals with disabilities, as well as those with limited English-speaking abilities:

“These centers with so many thousands of volunteers assist so many taxpayers every year.  By making this permanent, we’ll be able to provide VITA organizations and the taxpayers they serve with much certainty going forward.”   

The Committee unanimously approved the Taxpayer First Act.