Republican members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee and House colleagues with bills to support the cause, this week outlined their essential reforms for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
During the subcommittee’s Jan. 30 Member Day Hearing, entitled “Legislation to Improve Tax Administration,” House lawmakers chastised the IRS for ongoing budget blunders, outdated and subsequently improperly updated technology, and customer service failures that have left American taxpayers scoffing with distrust.
“I know the relationship between the IRS and taxpayers can be strained, particularly as taxpayers try to understand their tax liability and the IRS struggles to communicate and provide help,” said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), the new subcommittee chairman and a CPA, who said she wants to restore the relationship between the two.
That’s not going to be easy, according to subcommittee member U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), who said a trust gap exists between American taxpayers and the IRS. “It didn’t open up overnight and it won’t be closed overnight either,” Walorski said, “but we absolutely have to fix it.”
… In explaining how the trust gap came to be, Walorski provided examples from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), which conducted a 2017 report that found the IRS essentially purchased an incorrect software product for a project it ended up pausing due to a lack of funds and staff. Another TIGTA report found the IRS wasted $12 million on an email system that turned out to be one it couldn’t use, Walorski said. Again, TIGTA found that the IRS bought it first without determining project infrastructure needs nor other technological feasibilities, the congresswoman said.
“There is a clear, critical and urgent need for the IRS to fundamentally overhaul its IT systems, but repeated mistakes, big and small, undermine our trust that they’ll get it right,” said Walorski, who called for more accountability, better contracting practices, and an established strategic vision that includes long-range planning.
Some of the reforms can be legislative, Walorski said, but some of it is a cultural shift that’s going to be up to the next IRS commissioner to handle and, “I hope it will be a priority.”
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