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Brady Floor Remarks in Support of Legislation to Redesign the IRS

April 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of legislation to redesign the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the first time in 20 years:

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 

“Mr. Speaker,

“Today, we are taking the biggest and boldest steps in 20 years to redesign the IRS with a singular focus: ‘taxpayer first.’

“This legislation will redesign the IRS for first time in two decades. It refocuses the agency to live up to its mission of putting taxpayers first. Finally, it will rein in its enforcement powers to prevent future abuse.

“There are two important pieces of legislation being considered before the House today—H.R. 5444, the ‘Taxpayer First Act,’ and H.R. 5445, the ’21st Century IRS Act.’  These bipartisan bills, the product of two years of work by the Committee on Ways and Means, will make the IRS a truly ‘taxpayer first’ agency in a number of different ways.

“First off, this legislation puts an emphasis on customer service.

“We are requiring the IRS to submit to Congress plans to restructure the agency to improve efficiency, enhance cyber security, and better serve taxpayers. 

“This will guarantee that the IRS is living up to its ‘quality service’ motto, while holding the agency accountable if it fails to meet these standards.

“In addition, our legislation encourages the IRS to adopt common-sense customer service features commonly seen in the private sector, such as a call-back option. 

“Secondly, we are overhauling the IRS’s enforcement tools so families and small businesses can’t have property seized without fair notice and process. 

“Over and over again, we have heard stories from across the country of absolutely tragic abuses of power by the IRS.

“For example, we heard from Andrew Clyde, who served three combat tours in Iraq. Then he came home and opened a successful small business in Georgia only to have the IRS seize $950,000 from him.

“Our legislation prevents outrageous enforcement abuses like this to protect taxpayers from unfair seizures. 

“Thirdly, the ‘Taxpayer First Act’ reminds the IRS they are not just an enforcement agency – they are also our tax administrator.

“That’s why the legislation changes the title of the IRS chief from Commissioner to Administrator. 

“Additionally, we are shifting the burden of proof back onto the IRS when examining taxpayers. 

“This legislation establishes an ‘Independent Office of Appeals’ within the agency to ensure that taxpayers receive a fair – and impartial – review of disputes they may have with the IRS.

“It shouldn’t take a Freedom of Information Act request to see what evidence the IRS is bringing against you.

“This legislation will require that the IRS provide you your own case file prior to any review of your dispute with the agency.

“In the ’21st Century IRS Act,’ we are revamping the IRS’s nearly ancient technology and better positioning the agency to proactively combat cyber threats. 

“Right now, IRS technology is so outdated that some systems date to the 1960s, and fax machines are still used for some official communications.

“This legislation modernizes the IRS and ensures the agency is accountable for the billions in IT that it spends each year. 

“And lastly, the ’21st Century IRS Act’ enhances the agency’s ability to combat identity theft tax refund fraud by strengthening the IRS’s partnership with states and cyber security experts. 

“This legislation requires the IRS to proactively partner with states and the private sector to combat identity thieves seeking to steal our refunds.

“I want to thank Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins and Oversight Ranking Member John Lewis for their tireless work on this important bill.

“With a new tax code, it is time for a redesign of our tax administrator.

“This bipartisan legislation truly refocuses the IRS to make it a ‘taxpayer first’ agency.

“Thank you.”