Discussion Draft of IRS Reform Bill Puts ‘Service First’

A House Subcommittee has introduced a discussion draft of an IRS reform bill to make the agency more oriented towards serving taxpayers.

The Oversight Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means has released a discussion draft of The Taxpayer First Act, legislation that would modernize the IT, infrastructure and services at the Internal Revenue Service. Introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ranking Member John Lewis (D-GA), the proposed legislation seeks to make the first redesign of the IRS since 1998 and is based on information the Committee learned from roundtable discussions and public hearings.

Because it is a discussion draft, the Subcommittee is seeking comments about the legislative proposal.

The summary document (included below) outlines the key features of the legislative draft. Included among them are provisions such as an independent appeals process for taxpayers, requiring the IRS to show probable cause for seizing assets it believes have been “structured,” combatting taxpayer identity theft, and modernizing the IRS’ information technology systems.

Congresswoman Jenkins explained her reasoning behind the legislation in an editorial published today. She said many Americans would probably opt for having a root canal at the dentist over dealing with the IRS because “the IRS is anything but user-friendly,” something which she said she dealt with first hand being a certified public accountant.

She said that the IRS still relies on fax machines to conduct its business, just one reason why the agency lags in customer service (and needs its IT systems overhauled). The Ways and Means Committee has said before that the IRS is relying on technology from the 1960s to collect taxes and issue refunds, and the outdated systems negatively impact the agency’s ability to assist taxpayers. Consequently, the discussion draft includes a section with a heavy focus on IT modernization, including provisions such as expanding use of electronic filings, development of online accounts and portals for taxpayers, allowing the IRS to directly accept credit and debit cards for tax payments.

Jenkins also said that the “IRS must work for, not against, the taxpayer,” and that ultimately, the “goal for the IRS is to provide first class service to American taxpayers, rather than the dysfunctional service too many have come to expect.”

Discussion Draft: The Taxpayer First Act

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.