A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday offered legislation aimed at improving the Internal Revenue Service.
The Taxpayer First Act of 2019, which lawmakers say is the result of years of work by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, includes a broad range of provisions to modernize the tax agency and make it serve the public better (you can find the official summary here).
Those provisions include:
- Requiring the agency to submit plans to restructure to become more efficient, update technology systems and enhance cyber security;
- Establishing an independent office of appeals within the IRS and other steps to strengthen the rights of taxpayers facing IRS enforcement actions;
- Protections against tax identity theft and measures designed to improve interactions with the agency for filers who have had their identities stolen;
- Measures to improve the IRS whistleblower program;
- Changes to the agency’s private debt collection program meant to ensure that lower-income Americans are not targeted.
The bill reportedly would also raise the penalty for failing to file a tax return.
The House passed similar legislation last year, but those bills weren't taken up in the Senate, according to The Hill. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on the bill next week, The Hill says.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and introduced the legislation in the chamber along with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), said Thursday that some of his colleagues had other ideas for IRS reforms that didn’t make it into the bill. “I want them to know that I see this legislation as a first step toward reforming the IRS and strengthening taxpayer protections,” he said. “I agree that there is more we can do.” But both senators said they hope this bill can be passed quickly.