Fedweek

Bipartisan leaders of the House committee that oversees the IRS plan to push a bill overhauling many of the agency’s personnel and other policies in what would be the most comprehensive reform in two decades.

A discussion draft of a bill from the Ways and Means Committee for example would address the well-documented deterioration of customer service in recent years—largely the result of budgetary restrictions—by requiring the agency to develop a new customer service strategy. That strategy would have to address issues including training of employees and using best practices from the private sector, and would include benchmarks for improvement.

It further would require the IRS to notify Congress at least 90 days in advance of any plan to close a taxpayer assistance center, in effect giving Congress time to block the closing. It also would somewhat scale back the program of referring certain outstanding tax debts to private debt collectors—a program Congress ordered to be revived despite objections that such collections should be done only by IRS employees—by shielding lower-income taxpayers from being referred for outside collection.

Other provisions would address various enforcement issues, including imposing a new requirement that only IRS employees could question a witness under oath, or examine records or testimony for reasons other than serving as an expert witness.