The American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Taxation has expressed
concerns to top Senate tax writers about certain congressional IRS
reform efforts. The ABA Section of Taxation sent a June 6 letter to
Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah and
ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., regarding the House-approved
bipartisan Taxpayer First Act (HR 5444).
"The administrative reforms included in the House bills are a welcome step forward," Hatch said the House passed a package of bills in April, which aims to restructure the IRS for the first time in 20 years. Hatch said that he is looking forward to working with his colleagues to find a path forward that reflects both House and Senate views on IRS reform.
While the SFC considers the House’s IRS reform package, the ABA Section of Taxation has asked Senate tax writers to consider certain suggestions to enhance IRS restructuring efforts. "We appreciate that Congress has turned its attention to the relationship between taxpayers and the agency charged with the assessment and collection of taxes," the letter said. The ABA Section of Taxation agrees with most of the House-proposed changes but has concerns with certain aspects of the bill, the letter noted.
The House bill, HR 5444, proposes the establishment of an independent Office of Appeals along with a "generally available" right to appeal for taxpayers. While the letter to Hatch and Wyden supports a statutory right to appeals, among other things, it expresses concern that the IRS could limit certain taxpayer’s access to an appeal. "To the extent that the Service wishes to deny appeal rights to taxpayers, it should be required to articulate objective standards for when appeals will not be available, so that any Service determination to deny appeal rights can be measured against those standards," the letter said.
Additionally, the letter proposes that Congress remove certain limiting words from the bill’s provisions that discuss taxpayers’ rights to access case files. Currently, the bill states that only "specified taxpayers" will automatically be provided access to their case files. The ABA Section of Taxation urges Congress to allow all taxpayers access to information in their case file, regardless of income thresholds.
As for when the SFC will release its anticipated amendments to the House-approved IRS reform package remains unclear. The Senate’s legislative efforts toward restructuring the IRS are expected among lawmakers to be bipartisan.