Politics

House Passes Two Bills Designed To Rein In IRS’ Power

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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Two bills designed to hold the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) accountable for its incompetence passed the House along party lines Wednesday afternoon.

North Carolina Republican Rep. [crscore]David Rouzer[/crscore]’s bill, the No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act, would prevent the agency from hiring employees who have failed to meet their own tax obligations. It passed in a 543-170 vote, with 11 Democrats joining Republicans in voting for the measure.

The IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending (OWES) Act of 2016, spearheaded by Rep. [crscore]Jason Smith[/crscore] of Missouri, also made it through the lower chamber in a 245-179 vote. One Democrat, Rep. [crscore]Henry Cuellar[/crscore] of Texas, supported the measure.

The legislation aims to give Congress more oversight power by requiring the agency receive Congressional approval before spending funds are collected through user fees. The IRS would have to deposit fees into a general fund at the Department of Treasury, which is slated to be used to improve services for taxpayers.

While Republicans praised the legislation as a common sense solution, Democrats slammed the bill, saying it will take away resources the agency needs to function.

The White House made it clear the president will veto the measure if it makes it through the upper chamber.

“H.R. 4885 would repeal the IRS’s longstanding legal authority to offset the cost of providing services to taxpayers with user fees. The IRS has had this authority since 1995, and charges user fees for a variety of services,” the administration said in a statement. “Repealing this authority would reduce overall IRS resources by roughly 4 percent, compounding budget cuts that have left the IRS severely underfunded and reversing the limited progress the IRS has been able to make on taxpayer service levels this year after receiving a modest funding increase in fiscal year 2016.”

Smith noted at a recent House Committee on Ways and Means markup, the agency has been using the user fees as a “slush fund to implement Obamacare.”

House Majority Leader [crscore]Kevin Brady[/crscore] praised the passages, saying the IRS needs to regain the trust of the American people.

“To put an end to this slush fund, the House voted to have all fees collected by the IRS deposited in the Treasury where they are ultimately controlled by representatives accountable to the people,” he said in a statement. “We also passed a bill to ensure IRS employees actually pay their taxes. Nearly 1,600 IRS employees were delinquent on their taxes in the last decade. It is incomprehensible that we would trust people who don’t even pay their own taxes to collect others’ taxes.”

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