The GOP Proposes A New Bill to Increase Taxpayer Protections

GOP Senators Introduce Bill to Create New Taxpayer Protections

There is growing frustration with the IRS and the tax code in general in the United States. There have been attempts at fixes before, and the latest one was introduced last week by two Republican Senators.

New Tax Bill
New Tax Bill

The bill was introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The bill is called the Tax Payer Bill of Rights Enhancement Act, which is aimed at fixing problems that are causing the public to lose trust.

Improving IRS reputation

“The IRS’s level of customer service might be at an all-time low,” Grassley said in a written statement while introducing the bill. “Taxpayers are at a disadvantage with an agency that has tremendous power over their money. The IRS might talk about good customer service. Too often, talk is all there is. The IRS needs to walk the walk. Congress needs to act. This bill will help swing the pendulum away from agency self-preservation and back to taxpayer service.” Grassley and Thune are both on the Senate Finance Committee and should have detailed knowledge of the IRS.

IRS Service
IRS Service

IRS efforts

In an effort to improve its reputation, last June the IRS released a Tax Payer Bill of Rights that offered ways of dealing with the agency. The document is not a “legal document” and not enforceable. The two senators’ bill offers the enhancements that would give it more of a legal standing.

Another step

The IRS bill of rights was a step, but this bill will take it a step further. The bill has provisions that should help citizens in dealing with the IRS, and with understanding what their rights are.

Increased penalties

The bill increases damages and penalties for unauthorized disclosure or inspection of tax return information. It also increases civil damages for improper collection activities. It also requires that IRS employees be familiar with and cooperate with taxpayer protections. The bill would require employees be terminated for actions taken by the agency for political purposes.

Make information available
Make information available

Making information available

Taxpayers who are under investigation would also have more access to information regarding their cases. The bill would also allow taxpayers to bring action against the IRS for any illegal acts committed by the agency.

Protection for groups

It would add protections for 501c3 groups when the IRS does not act on an application in a timely manner or makes a negative judgment on their tax exempt status. The bill would prohibit IRS employees from using personal email accounts to do official business, so it would be harder to hide emails. It would also allow the use of taxpayer information to help find a taxpayer who is due a refund.

Other provisions

In other matters, the bill would allow tax exempt organizations to file forms electronically, and orders that the IRS make information available in a reasonable amount of time. The IRS had been criticized for not responding quickly enough to applications for tax exempt status at times. The bill also imposes requirements for email retention so emails could be examined and hold the IRS accountable.

Tax exempt groups
Tax exempt groups

Targeting tax exempt groups

The bill comes to some degree in response to the IRS admitting that it improperly scrutinizing tax exempt status of some conservative leaning groups. GOP officials have criticized the agency harshly in this area, and the bill would prevent some of that from happening in the future. The bill may also be considered to be retaliation to some degree. The IRS admitted that it had singled out some conservative groups, and emails that could have verified the level of that happening were apparently done on personal accounts and not retrievable during investigations.

IRS other problems

The IRS has other problems which cause the public to distrust them. The Senate has also shown its disapproval in recent years by reducing funding. Its funding has been cut by $1.2 billion over the past five years. The 2015 budget was $10.9 bi9llion, and could fall to $10.1 billion in 2016. That may or may not affect response times to calls when people try to contact the IRS, which has always been difficult. Reports from the treasury inspector general that was recently made public show that people who do get calls answered wait an average of 15.9 minutes, and that wait time was 8.1 minutes in 2011.

————————————————————————————

Author Bio:

Hi,

I’m a Tax Professional based in Oregon. I love to speak about Tax and Accounting issues. I’m a businessman at heart, and like individuals who wish to build businesses and contribute to the economy.

When you e-File 1099 MISC and other tax forms this year, consider using efile4biz.com.

These folks let you file 1099 online, and print and mail the paper forms to your recipients. It doesn’t get easier than that for you.  When it comes to data security in the online software industry, they are an industry innovator and are ahead of the pack.

 

Check out more info on e-Filing and business topics here:    Blog.com or Newsvine.com