The House has passed a bill that could pave the way for the most thorough overhaul of IRS operations since a 1998 law, including potentially lifting that law’s requirement that the agency be structured as operating units serving particular groups of taxpayers with similar needs.
It directs the IRS to “thoughtfully consider what a modern structure for the agency might look like” and develop a plan to be submitted to Congress, explaining how the IRS would prioritize taxpayer services, streamline and simplify its structure, and better position itself to combat cyber threats, according to a summary by sponsors.
Also under HR-1957, the IRS would produce within a year a strategy to improve customer service, which numerous reports have shown to be in decline in recent years due to budgetary and staff restrictions. That plan also is to ensure that the agency provides “adequate customer service training for its own employees and taking into account best practices from the private sector.”
Other provisions would: restore a now-lapsed authority granted under the 1998 law to pay higher salaries to recruit and retain employees with high-priority skills; further limit the program of private collection of tax debt; establish a new independent office within the agency to hear appeals by taxpayers; strengthen the role of the independent office of the National Taxpayer Advocate; add protections for taxpayers during enforcement actions; and enhance confidentiality safeguards and identity theft prevention programs.
Similar legislation is pending in the Senate, which sponsors hope to move there soon.