This week a bipartisan measure was passed by House Ways and Means Committee members. The bill includes measures designed to protect taxpayers from unfair practices and improve Internal Revenue Service (IRS) operations.
The bill, HR 1957, is intended to redesign the operational structure of the IRS with the intent of making the agency more efficient and to enhance taxpayer services and protections. The reform marks the first major reorganization of the IRS in more than two decades.
The title of the proposed bill is the Taxpayer First [Bill] of 2019 and is currently expected to include the following Internal Revenue Service reforms-
- Establish an independent office of appeals within the IRS;
- Require the IRS to submit to Congress plans to redesign the structure of the agency to improve efficiency, modernize technology systems, enhance cyber security and better meet taxpayer needs;
- Help protect taxpayers from tax ID theft and improve taxpayer interaction with the IRS should they become a victim of this crime;
- Require the IRS to create a website to allow taxpayers to electronically file IRS Form 1099s;
- Allow the payment of federal taxes by debit and credit cards:
- Expand to all taxpayers an IRS program that currently only allows victims of tax ID theft to obtain a personalized PIN that better secures their identity;
- Establish new safeguards to protect taxpayers against recent IRS enforcement of so-called “structuring laws”;
- Improve the IRS whistleblower program;
- Modify the private debt collection program to ensure lower-income Americans are not targeted, while also strengthening the long-term viability of the program; and
- Codify the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, allowing the IRS up to $30 million for matching grants to qualifying tax preparation sites.
The IRS, though perhaps not the most beloved of agencies within our federal government, is a critically important element of the collection of revenue for the country. This reform package promises to provide the agency with some much-needed modernization and reorganization. We are hopeful for improvements as it has been our experience, especially in recent years, that the IRS has become woefully out of date with respect to technology, training and leadership. Many of these problems are attributable to budgetary restraints imposed by Congress over an extended period of time.