The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Tuesday on a pair of bills which could accurately be called a kind of “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.”
Both measures are sponsored by Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), widely regarded as a rising star both in the House GOP Leadership and the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
H.R. 2530, the “Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act” would prevent “correspondence” with the IRS from becoming a years-long distraction for taxpayers. For one thing, any audit procedure would not be able to last longer than one full year–no more nightmares of IRS letters showing up month after month for years.
Additionally, the IRS would either have to process these claims or drop them with a new “30 day rule”: the IRS must provide a substantive, written response to any taxpayer audit correspondence within 30 days of receiving information from taxpayers. Today, it’s routine for the IRS to send letters saying the equivalent of “thanks for your response. We acknowledge and note it. We will get back to you within 60 (or 90, or 180) business days.”
Finally, the IRS would have to disclose to taxpayers any information sharing of the taxpayer’s data with state and local governments, or to other federal agencies. It’s important for taxpayers to know that when they send information to the IRS, they can at least track what happens to it when it exits the building.
H.R. 2531, the “Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act” is even simpler. It would prohibit the IRS from asking taxpayers about their religious, political, or social beliefs. If the agency believes these questions are vital, the IRS commissioner would have to disclose to Congress the specific questions asked, the class of taxpayers to whom they are asked, and the circumstances in which the questions are asked.