Politics

House Passes Bills Addressing Improper Rehires, Unjustifiable Bonuses At IRS

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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The House passed two bills Thursday aimed at holding Internal Revenue Service employees accountable for inefficiency in the wake of major issues found by nonpartisan government watchdogs.

The IRS Bonuses Tied to Measurable Metrics Act prevents the Department of the Treasury from paying out bonuses to any IRS employee until the Treasury presents a customer-service strategy to Congress that’s been approved by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The act passed in a 260-158 vote.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found, while the IRS’ customer service saw slight improvements from its 2015 levels, the average wait time for filers with questions hovered around 30 minutes — that’s if the calls were answered at all.

The bill, spearheaded by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. [crscore]Pat Meehan[/crscore], requires the strategy to “appropriate telephone and correspondence levels of service, which shall be based on service provided by the best in business and customer expectations.”

“When American taxpayers send a significant portion of their hard-earned paychecks to the IRS every year, they deserve high-quality customer service and the assurance that their dollars will be spent appropriately,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman [crscore]Kevin Brady[/crscore] of Texas said in a statement.

The second measure, the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2016, introduced by Rep. [crscore]Kristi Noem[/crscore] of South Dakota, overwhelmingly made it through the lower chamber in a 345-78 vote.

This legislation stops the IRS from rehiring employees that were fired for reasons including fraud, falsification of documents and unauthorized access to taxpayer information.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found the agency rehired 824 employees that “had prior substantiated employment issues” between between October 2009 and September 2013.

“This practice needs to end and that’s exactly what my bill does. It’s just commonsense,” Noem said in a statement. “Much more must be done to correct our broken tax system.  Nonetheless, as we work toward a fairer, flatter, and simpler tax code, I’ll be looking for more opportunities to make the IRS more accountable to you.”

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