Chairman Pascrell Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing with the National Taxpayer Advocate on Challenges Facing Taxpayers

Feb 8, 2022
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon. Welcome to our first Oversight Subcommittee hearing this year.

I want to welcome the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Rice, as our new Ranking Member. I look forward to working together.

Our hearing today is on the challenges taxpayers face in the 2022 filing season. We are fortunate to have with us the National Taxpayer Advocate, Erin Collins, as our sole witness. This is Ms. Collins’ first appearance before the Subcommittee. I welcome her warmly.

The National Taxpayer Advocate just released her organization’s Annual Report to Congress. In it, Ms. Collins expressed serious concerns about the current filing season. She indicates there will be challenges for taxpayers, tax professionals and the IRS.

Indeed, members of the Ways and Means Committee are aware of these many challenges because the Treasury Department and the IRS recently briefed us.

I look forward to Ms. Collins’s perspective on these challenges. The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization established within the IRS to help taxpayers, individuals, and businesses. This office exists to help address specified unresolved problems for taxpayers. We appreciate what this service does for our constituents.

We in Congress have an obligation to work closely with the National Taxpayer Advocate, IRS, and Treasury Department to address these problems. It is incumbent upon us to improve our constituents’ filing experience.

In our third COVID filing season, it is essential eligible taxpayers receive the recovery rebate credits and the child tax credits to which they are entitled.

The IRS was generally successful in getting this aid to taxpayers during the pandemic. But this year taxpayers will seek to reconcile what they received with what they are owed on their tax returns.

We know there are some inconsistencies in what the IRS says has been paid to some taxpayers and what taxpayers actually received.

I look forward to hearing the National Taxpayer Advocate’s perspective on steps taxpayers can take to avoid problems and how we can help.

Any hearing on the filing season is not complete without a general update on fraught IRS operations. We must understand how IRS operations impact the problems taxpayers will encounter during the upcoming filing season.

I was pleased to learn yesterday that the IRS is transitioning away from the use of facial recognition technology to allow taxpayers access to their IRS online accounts. There are serious privacy concerns with the use of this technology.

I look forward to working with the IRS and the Administration to find solutions that balance the need for identity theft protections against privacy concerns raised by this technology. Most importantly, taxpayers must have an alternative to this kind of technology for accessing their IRS account.

I also know that taxpayers are confused by the automated notices they are receiving for returns already filed and taxes already paid.

The backlog of returns and correspondence is delaying refunds and causing numerous issues for both individuals and businesses. 

From funding to staffing, I expect the National Taxpayer Advocate will share her perspective on how they affect the taxpayer’s filing experience.

So, I welcome today’s witness, National Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins. But first I will recognize for five minutes, the Ranking Member, Mr. Rice, for his opening remarks.