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Legislative update: Bipartisan IRS modernization bill released

Bipartisan IRS modernization bill released

The Chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee (Richard Neal, D-MA), the Ranking Republican on the Committee (Kevin Brady, R-TX), the Chairman of the Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee (John Lewis, D-GA), and the Ranking Republican on the Oversight Subcommittee (Mike Kelly, R-PA) released today a bill to redesign the IRS.

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A Ways and Means press release about the “bipartisan, bicameral” proposed legislation includes the following statement from Reps. Neal, Brady, Lewis, and Kelly:

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have carefully and thoughtfully developed this legislation over several years, after numerous hearings and roundtables, in a bipartisan, bicameral manner. The goal of the legislation is to modernize the IRS, putting taxpayers first. The commonsense provisions in this bill will protect low-income taxpayers, provide sensible enforcement reforms, and ensure the IRS provides taxpayers and small businesses the assistance they deserve.

Summary

A summary of the bill released by Ways and Means, lists the following key features:

  • Reinforcing the independence of the appeals process
  • Ensuring that taxpayers have access to the same information as the IRS during the dispute resolution process
  • Requiring the IRS to submit to Congress a plan to redesign the structure of the agency to improve efficiency, enhance cybersecurity, and better meet the needs of taxpayers
  • Making sure that, when the IRS performs an audit, actual notice is provided to taxpayers before the agency contacts friends, neighbors, and clients
  • Requiring the IRS to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan to improve its customer service strategy, based on best practices from the private sector
  • Overhauling the IRS’s tools of enforcement so that assets are not seized without proper, timely, and fair notice
  • Strengthening IRS accountability by codifying the roles and responsibilities of the IRS Chief Information Officer and requiring annual information technology strategic planning
  • Providing for the easier electronic submission of tax return forms and supporting documentation
  • Strengthening the IRS’s ability to proactively combat identity theft tax refund fraud by creating a single point of contact for victims of identity theft, codifying the Security Summit, and providing the IRS with the ability to safely share additional information with specified Information Sharing and Analysis Center members
  • Enhancing the potential impact of Taxpayer Advocate Directives
  • Restricting the use of third-party summons and modifying authority to issue designated summons
  • Requiring submission of a comprehensive training schedule for all IRS employees
  • Authorizing streamlined critical pay authority of I.T. personnel

Documents

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) announced in a floor speech today that he intends to introduce companion legislation, co-sponsored by Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), in the Senate.

The Ways and Means Committee has not yet indicated any plans to act on the bill.  However, it is possible that the Committee could meet to mark up the bill soon, possibly as early as next week. Even if the Committee does approve the bill, it is unclear when the full House of Representatives or the Senate might act upon the bill. While Senator Grassley indicated a hope to move the IRS modernization legislation quickly and the bipartisan and bicameral nature of the proposed legislation enhances the prospects that IRS modernization legislation might move through the legislative process, it is impossible to predict with certainty if or when such legislation may become law.

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