WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) today delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee hearing entitled “IRS Electronic Record Retention Policies: Improving Compliance.”
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Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Last year, the IRS processed 244 million tax returns. Among them are individuals and small businesses like my own, who must retain their tax records in case the IRS ever wants to review them. The IRS must also identify and retain records for defined lengths of time in accordance with Federal requirements. These records may later be needed to respond to requests from Congress, private citizens, or those bringing suit against the IRS. All of these parties have a right to ask the IRS to produce complete records. And the IRS has a responsibility to provide those records.
“However, TIGTA found that IRS policies do not comply with all Federal requirements, which ensure that all records are readily retrievable and usable.
“Specifically, the production of IRS emails currently relies on the IRS’s ability to search thousands of employee hard drives; OR, alternatively, each employee’s ability and willingness to print and file important emails. Neither system is sustainable or reliable enough to satisfy the voluminous record requests received by the IRS.
“The IRS has also changed its record retention policies three times since 2013, creating confusion across the agency. Additionally, the IRS has failed to stand up a basic email system capable of automatically archiving employee emails.
“These issues ultimately reduce transparency, open the Agency to exposure in civil lawsuits, and inhibit Congressional oversight of the IRS. They also create a double standard whereby the IRS is not required to maintain basic records in the same way that an average American citizen must. No individual or small business could do the same and not be subject to punitive actions by the IRS. Furthermore, this issue has been raised repeatedly by Congress to the IRS for years, without a permanent solution.
“So, we are here today to discuss TIGTA’s most recent findings and IRS’s progress in addressing these concerns. I believe members on both sides of the aisle want to ensure IRS has the authority and resources it needs to administer the Code. However, in return, we need to see stronger efforts by the IRS to ensure that records are properly retained and easily retrievable. We would also like to see the IRS work to improve how it procures and implements its IT systems. To that end, I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today.”