The House Ways and Means Committee yesterday voted unanimously to advance a legislative package to restructure the IRS.
The bipartisan package of 12 bills, drafted by Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and ranking member John Lewis (D-GA), includes dozens of prescriptions to “fix” the IRS, including provisions to establish a new independent IRS Office of Appeals; enhance cybersecurity and prevent identity fraud; modernize the IRS’s information technology systems; and improve customer service.
“It’s been 20 years since Congress and the Ways and Means Committee last considered major legislation to overhaul the IRS,” said Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX). “During that time much has changed, and the IRS must change with it.”
Brady said Congress wants to give the IRS time to focus on implementing the major tax law enacted at the end of last year before focusing on restructuring its operations. The package requires the IRS to send Congress by Sept. 30, 2020, a comprehensive plan for reorganizing the agency in accordance with the priorities developed by lawmakers.
“Rather than Congress restructuring it at this moment, we’re laying out the guardrails and architecture of what a new IRS would look like and requiring them to bring back the restructuring plan,” Brady said.
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee pointed out that the IRS needs additional funding in order to modernize its technology and do some of the other things Congress wants it to do. Congressional Republicans have slashed the IRS budget by more than $900 million since 2010.
Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter said the agency appreciates the extra time proposed for the agency to put a restructuring plan in place. “For the most part we think it’s pretty constructive,” Kautter said at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this week.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who held his own hearing on IRS operations earlier today, said Senate tax writers will study the House bill and determine whether to offer their own legislation to retool the IRS.