On April 9, the House passed by a voice vote H.R. 1957, “Taxpayer First Act of 2019.” The bill had bipartisan support in the House and appears to have bicameral support, as well. The Senate Finance Committee is considering an identical bill in S. 928.
H.R. 1957 would modify requirements to the IRS’ organizational structure, customer service procedures and training, enforcement procedures, information technology and electronic systems. It includes the following provisions:
· establish an independent IRS appeals office;
· require the commissioner to appoint a chief information officer;
· establish a response deadline to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s directives;
· notify Congress 90 days before a proposed closure of a Taxpayer Assistance Center;
· develop a comprehensive customer service strategy;
· continue the IRS Free File Program;
· exempt certain low-income taxpayers from offer-in-compromise payments and from referral to the IRS’ private debt collection program;
· modify tax enforcement procedures on property seizures, summons, joint liability and third-party contact;
· modify whistleblowers procedures;
· update cybersecurity and identity protection requirements;
· provide a single point of contact for tax-related identity theft victims;
· within five years, offer identity protection personal identification numbers nationwide;
· allow the IRS to require additional taxpayers to file electronically;
· require partnerships having more than 100 partners to file returns on magnetic media;
· waive the electronic filing requirement for certain preparers in areas without internet access;
· require mandatory e-file by exempt organizations, but provide notice before revoking an exempt status for failure to file return;
· implement internet platforms for Form 1099 filings and for third-party income verification;
· develop uniform standards for the acceptance of electronic signatures;
· streamline critical pay authority for the IRS’ information technology positions;
· ensure that contractors comply with confidentiality safeguards; and
· prohibit the rehiring of certain IRS employees removed for misconduct.
As an offset, the legislation would increase the penalty for failing to file a tax return and for improper disclosure or use of information by return preparers.