On Jan. 30, the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), convened a member-day hearing to discuss various legislation to improve tax administration, IRS operations, and taxpayer services. This hearing is a continuation of the subcommittee’s efforts to restructure the IRS.
The hearing came at a difficult time for the IRS, as it is grappling with budgetary constraints, loss of personnel, and an uphill task to implement the GOP’s new tax law.
During the hearing, GOP members and one Democrat, subcommittee ranking member John Lewis (D-GA), offered proposals to improve the IRS. Below is a list of key recommendations discussed at the hearing.
- Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS): Focus on the IRS’s dispute resolution process, without litigation, by ensuring that taxpayers have access to face-to-face meetings and an independent review of agency assessments.
- Subcommittee ranking member John Lewis (D-GA): Eliminate the private debt collection program, which costs about three times more than it collects. Rep. Lewis also asked for better funding of the agency, improvements to the low-income taxpayer clinics, and oversight over paid-return preparers.
- Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-WA): Use third-party data verification to speed up refund processing, replacing algorithms, which encourage cybercriminals to design clever workarounds.
- Rep. Mike Bishop (R-MI): Find a way to assist the efforts of the IRS Security Summit – Rep. Bishop’s office is looking for a list of ideas that outline ways in which they might be helpful, absent legislation.
- Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY): Introduce a call-back feature for those who have limited access to IRS centers due to geographic location.
- Rep. LaHood (R-IL): Provide for free file permanence (H.R. 3641); and give the Taxpayer Advocate’s Office the necessary resources to ensure the IRS commissioner responds to taxpayer concerns in a timely manner.
- Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO): Modify the IRS’s appeals procedures by restricting the agency’s authority to designate cases for litigation without permitting an appeal. (Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act – H.R. 3220).
- Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH): Enact additional measures to prevent tax refund fraud, including the establishment of a centralized point of contact for victims of identity theft and a requirement that the IRS notify victims of identity theft. (Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 – H.R. 439).
- Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC): Require the IRS to provide uniform guidance on the use of electronic signatures, instead of antiquated “wet” signatures. (Electronic Signature Standards Act of 2017 – H.R. 3153).
- Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL): Provide simplified tax forms for individuals 65 and over. (Seniors’ Tax Simplification Act of 2017 – H.R. 2721).