Before dismissing for recess at the end of last week, Congress passed a spending bill to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year and avoid a partial government shutdown. President Trump signed it into law on Friday.
The new bill (H.R. 244) contains some provisions affecting the Internal Revenue Service and federal employees who work there. This is a summary of the more interesting provisions:
- Section 102: IRS shall maintain an employee training program, which shall include the following topics: taxpayers’ rights, dealing courteously with taxpayers, cross-cultural relations, ethics, and the impartial application of tax law.
- Section 103: IRS shall institute and enforce policies and procedures that will safeguard the confidentiality of taxpayer information and protect taxpayers against identity theft.
- Section 107: None of the funds made available under this Act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to target citizens of the United States for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
- Section 108: None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Internal Revenue Service to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs.
- Section 110: Prohibits the use of funds for giving bonuses to employees or re-hiring former employees without considering conduct and compliance with Federal tax law.
Sections 102 and 103 offer no specifics other than what was stated above.
The final provision appears to be aimed at tax delinquent federal workers and is something that has come up in Congress before. Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has been a proponent of legislation that would render individuals with seriously delinquent tax debt ineligible for federal civilian employment, contracts, or grants (see Legislation Introduced to Target Tax Delinquent Federal Employees).
Sections 107 and 108 seem to be language that was inserted into the bill in response to the IRS targeting scandal of conservative groups that has impacted the agency. While the actions occurred several years ago, allegations and fall-out from the targeting of conservative groups is still making news in 2017. Just last month, two House Republicans asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to take a fresh look at the Lois Lerner case.
Some Republicans in Congress have been calling for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to be fired, partly because of his role in the targeting scandal.