Republican members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee and House colleagues with bills to support the cause, this week outlined their essential reforms for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
During the subcommittee’s Jan. 30 Member Day Hearing, entitled “Legislation to Improve Tax Administration,” House lawmakers chastised the IRS for ongoing budget blunders, outdated and subsequently improperly updated technology, and customer service failures that have left American taxpayers scoffing with distrust.
“I know the relationship between the IRS and taxpayers can be strained, particularly as taxpayers try to understand their tax liability and the IRS struggles to communicate and provide help,” said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), the new subcommittee chairman and a CPA, who said she wants to restore the relationship between the two.
Among the witnesses testifying before the subcommittee were U.S. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Jim Renacci (R-OH), who each outlined two bills they separately introduced and would like to have members consider.
Rep. Roskam, for instance, last August introduced the Free File Permanence Act of 2017, H.R. 3641, which has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would require the U.S. Treasury Department to continue operating the IRS Free File Program and to work with state government agencies and the private sector to expand and enhance the program, which offers free commercial-type online individual income tax preparation and electronic filing services to the lowest 70 percent of taxpayers by income, according to the bill’s summary.
“As an added bonus, the program actually saves the federal government an estimated $13 million a year because electronic filings are less expensive for the IRS to process than paper versions,” said Roskam.
The bipartisan bill has 123 cosponsors, including subcommittee chairman Jenkins and subcommittee members Bishop, Walorski, LaHood, and Curbelo.
Rep. Roskam also introduced the bipartisan Restraining Excessive Seizure of Property through the Exploitation of Civil Asset Forfeiture Tools Act, H.R. 1843, on March 30, 2017, which would limit IRS authority to seize the funds of law-abiding citizens under false pretenses, said Roskam. Multiple incidences uncovered by House Oversight Subcommittee members showed that the IRS has abused its authority “and was stealing legally earned funds solely because the owners ran afoul of structuring laws,” he said. An identical bill, S. 824, was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) on April 4, 2017. Roskam’s bill passed the House on a voice vote in September and now awaits consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.