Hopefully this proposed new legislation will be passed before next tax season. It could be good news for all taxpayers especially those who owe the IRS back taxes. The bill will make it easier for taxpayers to enter into an installment agreement or have an offers-in-compromise agreed to without requiring chief counsel review for offers in compromise of over $50,000. Proposed by Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and John Thune, R-S.D. the legislation would “improve customer service at the Internal Revenue Service, create new taxpayer protections, and update and strengthen existing taxpayer protections.”
In light of the multitude of tax fraud scams perpetrated on Americans for the past few years, many of which led to the criminals being protected by the IRS instead of the taxpayer, it will be interesting to see how this plays out if passed. Without question it is much needed. Called “The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Enhancement Act of 2015” this new legislation is created to “help ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect taxpayer rights by preventing IRS abuses.” This brings to mind abuses such as the Bank Secrecy Act that currently allows the IRS to seize personal and business bank accounts of anyone they “suspect” without any proof of tax evasion or terrorism. (See my recent article, Seize and Dismiss: A Case of IRS Failure To Follow Its Own Rules) Few government agencies would win popularity contests with American taxpayers, however the IRS would most likely top the list as the least favorite. Despite its unpopularity, Senator Grassley says the IRS, “shouldn’t repel and mistreat the people it exists to serve.” No one would argue with his next statement, “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.” It would be refreshing to see the IRS truly held accountable for its misdeeds and mistreatment of American citizens. If the new bill gets through there is a provision that would “significantly increase civil damages and criminal penalties for the unauthorized disclosure or inspection of tax return information and significantly increase civil damages for improper IRS collection activities.” To date, the IRS has pretty much had free reign to abuse American taxpayers. And of late, the IRS has not even been held accountable for not firing employees and agents who violate the “10 Deadly Sins” established by the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which require mandatory termination. The new bill calls for an update of these actions.
Additionally the bill proposes to impose an “affirmative duty of the IRS commissioner to ensure that IRS employees are familiar with and act in accordance with all taxpayer protections. According to Senator Thune, “This bill is intended to enact a much-needed culture change at the IRS, an agency whose reputation and trustworthiness has severely deteriorated with the American people over the last several years.” He continues adding, “This bill takes an important step toward restoring this agency to one that the American people both expect and deserve.”
I must admit, this proposed new legislation sounds promising. Let’s see if it flies. (http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/tax-practice/senators-introduce-bill-to-enhance-taxpayer-bill-of-rights-74918-1.html?utm_campaign=daily-jun%2018%202015&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&ET=webcpa%3Ae4586843%3A4454360a%3A&st=email)