Tax writers offer bipartisan proposal to improve IRS

Tax writers offer bipartisan proposal to improve IRS
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The leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight subcommittee released a discussion draft on Monday that is designed to revamp the IRS.

The proposal, from subcommittee chairwoman Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsPompeo seen as top recruit for Kansas Senate seat Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch GOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R-Kan.) and ranking member John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's Morning Report - What to watch for as Mueller’s probe winds down John Lewis, José Andrés among Sunday's Oscar presenters Dems want info from IRS about new tax forms MORE (D-Ga.), aims to make improvements to the IRS's appeals process, customer service, cybersecurity and information technology, among other areas.

The discussion draft comes after the oversight committee held a series of hearings on IRS reform, and is being released several weeks before the April 17 tax-filing deadline.

It also follows enactment of the GOP tax-cut bill. GOP lawmakers had expressed an interest in overhauling the IRS along with the tax code.

Jenkins said in a news release that "tax reform was only half of our promise. Our attention must now turn to modernizing the IRS and improving the taxpayer experience."

“As a CPA, I know from experience the IRS can be very frustrating to deal with. I am proud of the work this subcommittee has done to advance this initiative in a bipartisan fashion," she added. "The IRS reform bill we are releasing today will be a giant step forward in improving the taxpayer experience.”

Lewis said he's disappointed that the proposal doesn't end the IRS's private debt collection program but said "it makes good progress in protecting low- and middle-income taxpayers from harassment and abuse."

The discussion draft, whose legislative text clocks in at 81 pages, proposes a number of changes aimed at making the IRS work better for taxpayers. 

For example, in the area of customer service, the proposal would require the IRS to develop a customer service strategy, codify the "free file" program where tax-preparations services offer free software to low- and middle-income taxpayers, and require the IRS to notify taxpayers before closing taxpayer assistance centers.

In the enforcement area, it would codify a policy that the IRS only seize taxpayer's funds in suspected structuring cases when the funds are believed to have come from illegal sources.

To help combat identity theft, the discussion draft would establish a single point of contact within the IRS for ID-theft victims and require the agency to set up a program where anyone can request from the IRS an identity protection PIN to use on their returns.

Additionally, the proposal would allow people to pay their taxes using debit and credit cards, and change the title of the IRS Commissioner to IRS Administrator.

The Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee is seeking feedback on its proposal from stakeholders and asks that those with comments send them to by April 6.