Kelly says IRS needs a refocused vision under Taxpayer First Act

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), ranking member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, on March 28 introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to refocus and reform the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Rep. Kelly is the lead original cosponsor of the Taxpayer First Act, H.R. 1957, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, to reform the IRS.

“Today,@repjohnlewisand I introduced landmark legislation to reform the IRS and focus its mission on being a “service-first agency.” We need the IRS to work for taxpayers because the status quo is failing them,” Rep. Kelly tweeted last Thursday.

H.R. 1957 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modernize and improve the IRS, according to the congressional record.

“The last time Congress considered transformative revisions to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was in 1998. Two decades later, we seek to once again improve the IRS,” wrote U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) in a one-page summary of the proposal. 

Among numerous provisions proposed in H.R. 1957, an enacted bill would create an independent appeals process for taxpayers who want to resolve a dispute with the IRS, according to the summary, and would require that the “IRS thoughtfully consider and submit to Congress a plan to redesign the structure of the agency to improve efficiency, enhance cybersecurity, and better meet the needs of taxpayers.”

Additionally, the bill would codify the existing IRS Free File program and would require the agency to continue to work with private stakeholders to maintain, improve and expand the program, which currently works with electronic tax preparation services to provide free tax preparation software and electronically fillable forms, the summary says. 

Following the introduction of the bill, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) joined Reps. Kelly, Lewis, and Neal in releasing a joint statement about the proposal.  

“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 lawmakers wrote. “The goal of the legislation is to modernize the IRS, putting taxpayers first.”

Other original cosponsors of H.R. 1957 include U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH). 

In the U.S. Senate, the same-named companion bill, S. 928, was introduced on March 28 by U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

“Very few people enjoy the tax-filing process,” Sen. Grassley said last Thursday. “That’s especially true for taxpayers who encounter frustrating situations that may seem unfair, for whistleblowers who aren’t treated respectfully, or for ordinary taxpayers who want to make sure their privacy and security are protected.”

The senator added that the proposed bill is “a first step” in reforming the IRS. “This bipartisan, bicameral agreement represents years of hard work and consensus building,” he said. “I hope that it can pass in a timely manner and with broad support.”

At the same time, Rep. Kelly and the other members of the House Ways and Means Committee said that “the commonsense provisions” in the bill also would “protect low-income taxpayers, provide sensible enforcement reforms, and ensure the IRS provides taxpayers and small businesses the assistance they deserve.”

“There’s no federal agency Americans interact with more than the IRS and it’s critical that it be reformed and modernized to better serve taxpayers,” added Sen. Wyden. “Our bill would strengthen tax-preparation services for low-income Americans, improve agency technology and better protect taxpayers’ personal data. This legislation has strong bipartisan support and I’m hopeful it will be passed without delay.”

H.R. 1957 is under review by the House Ways and Means Committee and House Financial Services Committee, while S. 928 has been referred for consideration to the Senate Finance Committee.