On March 26, Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ranking Member John Lewis (D-GA) released a discussion draft of proposed legislation entitled “The Taxpayer First Act.” According to a press release, this bipartisan legislation would, among other things, “transform taxpayer interactions” with IRS and modernize its “information technology,
infrastructure, and services.”
Specific proposals include those that would:
- codify the IRS Independent Office of Appeals and provide for additional Congressional oversight over decisions made by IRS to withhold taxpayers from the administrative review process;
- require IRS to develop and submit to Congress a comprehensive customer service strategy;
- permanently authorize matching grants to support Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs;
- codify the existing Free File program;
- require IRS to eliminate the offer-in- compromise application fee and initial payment requirement for taxpayers with incomes below 250% of the federal poverty level;
- require IRS to show probable cause that funds believed to have been structured to avoid Bank Secrecy Act reporting are derived from an illegal source or connected to other criminal activity before funds can be seized;
- clarify the standard of review by the Tax Court for equitable relief from joint liability;
- modify the procedures for the issuance of third-party summons;
- establish an income threshold for referral to a private debt collection agency;
- codify recent efforts of IRS to foster a “public-private partnership to address identity theft refund fraud”
- establish a single point of contact for identity theft victims;
- require IRS to set up a program under which any concerned taxpayer can request an Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) to use in filing his or her return;
- establish a “new goal” for IRS to “develop robust and secure online accounts for taxpayers and their preparers by 2023”;
- modernize IRS’s Income Verification Express Service (IVES);
- lower the threshold, from 250 to 10, of the number of returns that an individual must file in order to be subject to an electronic filing requirement;
- require all tax-exempt organizations that are required to file annual returns with IRS to file electronically; and
- make Tax Court judges subject to the same grounds for disqualification as judges of other federal courts.
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As an aside, the 2017 audit rate was .6%, the lowest rate since 2002.
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