The following information was provided by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA).
Cutting the IRS Budget
On Wednesday the House considered H.R. 4885, the IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act. Under current law, user fees collected by the IRS are available to help fund agency operations, including taxpayer assistance. These user fees represent more than $400 million annually. H.R. 4885 instead directs that money to the Treasury Department, which represents a cut to the IRS budget of 4%. Since 2010, the IRS has lost about 17% of its funding due to budget cuts. This has forced the agency to eliminate jobs and delay technology upgrades. It has lengthened the amount of time taxpayers must wait for their returns to be processed and questions to be answered. It has also impacted the agency’s oversight ability, limiting its capacity to audit tax returns, an essential task to detect and discourage cheating.
IRS Employee Oversight
On Wednesday the House also considered H.R. 1206, the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act. This legislation prevents the IRS from hiring any new employees until the Treasury Secretary certifies that no current employees have any serious tax issues. H.R. 1206 is an unnecessary exercise because under existing IRS rules any employee with a tax delinquency must be terminated. It’s worth noting that 99% of IRS employees are fulfilling their tax filing responsibilities. This percentage is higher than the general public and even higher than House members.
IRS Workforce Integrity
On Thursday the House considered H.R. 3724, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2015. Ostensibly, this legislation prevents the IRS from bringing back an employee who has been terminated. In reality, it is nothing more than a symbolic swipe at the IRS. What if someone is fired “for cause” and that reason is later determined to be an error or rendered moot for some reason? This legislation is a fix in search of a problem since no real life examples of these circumstances have ever been identified.
On Thursday the House also considered H.R. 4890, the IRS Bonuses Tied to Measurable Metrics Act. This legislation prohibits bonuses from being issued to any IRS employee until the Treasury Secretary establishes a more effective customer service plan. Over the past six years the IRS’ budget has been cut by almost a billion dollars and 12,000 jobs have been lost. Yet the workload of the IRS has not diminished. The agency cannot be expected to accomplish the same level of work with diminished resources.
These were all party-line votes; Rep. Reed voted AYE on all four bills.