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Chairman Buchanan Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing with the National Taxpayer Advocate

May 19, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) today delivered the following opening statement at a hearing with the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“It has been nearly twenty years since Congress seriously considered reforms to the IRS. I am hopeful that as we embark on a renewed effort to improve the agency that we can work hand-in-hand with Members on both sides of the aisle. Working together, I am confident that we can find common ground and make progress. 

“I think it is important to emphasize that our efforts to reform the IRS should not be seen as a punishment or a criticism of the average agency employee. Instead they are a recognition that the IRS mission is important. Every government entity, just like private companies, can benefit from a thorough review and some thoughtful long-term planning. And that is what we are trying to do here.

“I have a business background. I started my own business many years ago and my experience tells me that we always need to be looking for ways to make improvements and gain efficiencies.

“When evaluating any entity—government or business—first, I always ask: What needs to be improved? And then I follow up with another question: Are we making progress on the improvements that were identified? Are we moving forward?

“The task before us today is to ask the tough questions and look for solutions. This work is important because the taxpayer needs to be able to trust the entity administering the tax code. Ninety-eight percent of our tax revenue comes to the IRS voluntarily. Only two percent is collected through IRS enforcement actions. Trust is a key component of voluntary compliance.

“The Taxpayer Bill of Rights contains “the Right to Quality Service” as second on its list. An IRS publication describes that right as “the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in [taxpayer] dealings with the IRS.” As we consider reforms to the IRS, we should keep this right as well as the other nine in mind. I look forward to working with Ranking Member Lewis and other Members of this Committee to make the IRS a 21st Century agency.

“I want to thank our witness, Ms. Olson, for being here today. She has been a champion for taxpayers for many years and her insight on this topic will be valuable. I look forward to her testimony.”