Recent actions on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) indicate an agency that has grown increasingly powerful, considers itself to be above the law, and is unable to deal with a growing number of institutional shortcomings. The agency has been found to have used the determination of tax status of not-for-profit social welfare organizations as a tool for political discrimination. It has tried to impose rules that would have chilled the free speech of organizations and individuals. It has mishandled confidential information and IRS leadership has proved uncooperative when Congress has sought answers and reforms. In short, there is an urgent need for increased oversight and accountability.
To that end, NTU urges all Representatives to vote “YES” on the following commonsense bills:
H.R. 4903: This legislation, introduced by Rep. Allen (R-GA), would prohibit the use of funds by the IRS to target citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.
H.R. 4885: This legislation, the “IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act,” introduced by Rep. Smith (R-MO), would require fees for services paid to the IRS to be deposited in the general fund and prohibits IRS expenditure of fees unless appropriated. This reduces the incentive of the IRS to create or increase taxpayer fees and increases proper oversight by Congress via the Power of the Purse.
H.R. 1206: This legislation, “No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act,” introduced by Rep. Rouzer (R-NC), would prohibit the IRS – the agency responsible for enforcing the Tax Code – from hiring people who are seriously delinquent on tax debt. The IRS already has a significant tax delinquency problem among its own staff. Despite a 1998 law calling for the termination of such employees, tax delinquent staff are still eligible for bonuses and have indeed received raises and promotions.
H.R. 3724: This legislation, “Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act,” introduced by Rep. Noem (R-SD), would further improve the IRS labor force by prohibiting the rehiring of any individual previously removed for misconduct or terminated for cause.
H.R. 4890: This legislation, introduced by Rep. Meehan (R-PA), would impose a ban on payments of bonuses to IRS employees until the Secretary of the Treasury develops and implements a comprehensive customer service strategy. The 2014 Taxpayer Advocate report found that the declining quality of service was the single “most serious” problem facing taxpayers with less than one-half of customers receiving assistance.
Implementation of the above reforms would help rein in an increasingly out of control agency. However, the root cause of much frustration and the IRS’s ability to accrue and wield enormous power over ordinary citizens is the extreme complexity of the Tax Code. Even as important institutional improvements are achieved, the best long term solution to the many problems the bills above try to address is Tax Code simplification. Doing so would empower taxpayers, yield economic growth, and curb the growing IRS.
Roll call votes on these bills will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “YES” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.