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 Reform: The Taxpayer Experience.”
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Remarks as delivered:
“Today’s hearing is an important part of our efforts to reform the Internal Revenue Service. I have said this before– this bipartisan reform effort is not an attempt to discredit the IRS or cast the agency in a bad light. I understand there are many public servants doing good work at the IRS. I have also made clear I believe there is always room for improvement. Continuous improvement should be a priority for the IRS and I am committed to working with Ranking Member Lewis, my colleagues in Congress, and the agency to achieve that.
“For some perspective, in fiscal year 2016, the IRS collected more than $3.3 trillion dollars in taxes. That is money generated by millions of hardworking Americans. In order to collect those funds, the agency processed more than 244 million tax returns and supplemental documents. That number includes individual and business tax returns.
“Of the 150 million returns filed by individual taxpayers—more than half were filed by paid preparers. This means at least 50 percent of individual tax filers do not have direct contact with the IRS. With more and more taxpayers seeking help to comply with the complex tax laws, it is critical we hear from those of you who directly interact with taxpayers on a regular basis. Without this critical input, it is difficult to get a full understanding of how taxpayers are being treated.
“Improving the relationship between the IRS and taxpayers starts with ensuring that taxpayer rights are being respected. It is the duty of the IRS Commissioner to ensure that employees are familiar with and act in accordance with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Key taxpayer rights include the right to be informed, the right to quality service, and the right to a fair and just tax system.
“The goal of our hearing today is to get a better understanding of how ordinary taxpayers interact with the IRS. Each of the witnesses represent organizations that help thousands of taxpayers in their dealings with the IRS whether by routine tax filing or through resolving tax controversy cases. I look forward to your testimony and the unique perspective you each offer.”