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HEARING: Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Markup of Legislation to Hold the IRS More Accountable

April 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at a full committee markup to consider legislation to hold the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) more accountable.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“It is safe to say that we are meeting to highlight the most unpopular week of the year in America – Tax Week. I’ve served on this committee a long time and I have never met anyone who enjoys the annual ritual of trying to decipher and obey the dictates of the extremely broken U.S. tax code.

“Unfortunately, the process has grown increasingly frustrating over time. In 1935, the Federal tax form required 2 pages of instructions. 

“Today, the Federal tax form requires 105 pages of instructions.

“Now, individuals and businesses spend approximately 6.1 billion hours complying with the tax laws – equivalent to 3 million full-time workers each year. And American taxpayers spend more than $31 billion on software and professional tax preparation services per year.

“With a system this broken, we cannot continue to accept the status quo. Americans should not be forced to endure another year of this miserable experience. At the Ways and Means Committee, we are committed to moving forward on pro-growth tax reform that will make our tax code simpler, fairer and flatter. 

“And we are also working to hold the Internal Revenue Service accountable to the American people. Americans send a significant portion of their hard-earned dollars to the IRS every April. They deserve an IRS that is committed to delivering the highest level of customer service to American taxpayers. 

“That’s what each of our bills is about today – making the IRS accountable to the American people.

“The first bill we’ll consider – H.R. 3724, sponsored by Representative Noem – is a commonsense proposal that simply prohibits the IRS from rehiring employees who were fired for misconduct. An IRS employee who abuses the trust of his or her position and breaks the rules should not be able to get his or her old job back.

“Our second bill – H.R. 4890, sponsored by Representative Meehan – makes sure that the IRS pays bonuses only when they are actually earned. Earlier this year, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office released a report about the absolutely abysmal level of customer service at the IRS. The fact is that few Americans are able to reach the IRS to get their question answered or the help they need. Until the IRS improves its horrible customer service record, the IRS should not be paying out big bonuses.

“Our third bill – H.R. 4885, sponsored by Representative Jason Smith – gives Congress the authority to determine how the IRS spends user fees. After all, if the IRS is going to charge the American people fees for doing its job, taxpayers should at least have some way to ensure that these funds are being spent properly and go towards top priorities.

“To tie these three bills together, IRS fees should go towards improving customer service – and not paying out massive bonuses to reward inefficient bureaucracy.

“And our final bill – H.R. 1206 – is authored by Representative David Rouzer of North Carolina. While he’s not a member of our Committee, his bill epitomizes the level of accountability we are trying to deliver to the IRS.  Congressman Rouzer’s legislation would require the Treasury Secretary to certify that no IRS employees have serious delinquencies with respect to their own tax obligations. It is the height of hypocrisy that the IRS could have employees who are blatantly ignoring their own tax obligations. 

“Each of these bills is a smart, commonsense proposal that will simply make the IRS more accountable to the American people. I’m pleased we are acting on them today and look forward to their consideration on the House floor soon.”