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Wanted: Accountability at the IRS

March 23, 2015

Americans deserve a government thats efficient and effective, but thats not exactly how youd describe the IRS. So on Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee will take up a series of bills based on the Tea Party targeting investigation to change how the IRS does business. And recently, the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, led by Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL), has upped the pressure on the agency to be more transparent and more accountable in other areas. Here are just some of the latest examples: 

  • Protecting Small Businesses from IRS Abuse: Last month, the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing on the IRSs use of civil-asset forfeiture laws to seize the bank accounts of law-abiding small businesses. This issue was first brought to light in December of last year, when it was discovered that the IRS was using civil-forfeiture laws to improperly seize funds small businesses need to make payroll and maintain inventory. During the hearing, Chairman Roskam prompted the key witness, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, to apologize for the agencys actions. Koskinen admitted, That was a mistake, and I apologize for that. Read the full exchange here

    • Highlighting Error-Filled Obamacare Tax Forms: On February 20, 2015, Chairman Roskam sent a letter to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner demanding to know why nearly 1 million Americans received error-filled tax forms from health-insurance marketplaces run by the agency. As a result, these taxpayers will likely experience challenges and delays in filing their annual tax returns. Read the letter here.  As of March 23, these problems had still not been resolved for at least 80,000 Americans.

    • Demanding the IRS Turn Over White House Emails: Earlier this month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen demanding that the agency turn over all communications between the IRS and the Executive Office of the President from January 1, 2010, to now. The letter is the latest in a series of oversight efforts to determine how private taxpayer information is shared between the agency and the White House. In February, White House counsel refused a request from Ways and Means and Senate Finance for the White House to turn over all of its communications to the IRS.  In the most recent letter, the IRS essentially said, the White House has not asked for taxpayer information, but we do not have the resources to looktrust us. For a detailed timeline of the various correspondences, please click here.

    • Questioning Why the IRS Rehired Fired Employees: In early February, Chairman Roskam sent a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen demanding to know why the IRS rehired hundreds of former employees who were previously terminated for performance or conduct issues, including the mishandling of taxpayer information. This discovery came as a result of an audit report released by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration in December 2014. Read more from The Daily Caller here, and Chairman Roskams full letter here.

    • Stopping the IRS from Taxing Gifts to Nonprofits: On February 26, 2015, Chairman Roskam introduced H.R. 1104, the Fair Treatment for All Donations Act, to permanently ensure donations to 501(c)4, (c)5, and (c)6 organizations are not subject to the gift tax. Federal law requires that gifts in excess of $14,000 be subject to the gift tax, but donations to nonprofit organizations have always been considered tax-free. In recent years, however, the IRS has threatened to apply the gift tax to these contributions. The Washington Times elaborates on the story here.