House Passes Bills Curtailing IRS Bonuses and Hiring

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The House passed a bill Thursday prohibiting bonuses for IRS employees until the Treasury develops a better customer service strategy, the last of six bills passed this week affecting IRS bonuses, hiring practices and policies.

H.R. 4890, the IRS Bonuses Tied to Measurable Metrics Act, sponsored by Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., would prohibit the IRS from paying bonuses to employees until the Treasury Secretary develops and implements a comprehensive customer service strategy that “puts taxpayers first.”

"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,” said House Ways and Means Committee chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. His committee passed the four of the bills last week, and the House voted to approve those and two others Thursday (see House Committee Passes Bills Cracking Down on IRS).

The other five measures passed were:

  • H.R. 3724, Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act of 2015, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., would prohibit the IRS from rehiring employees who were fired for misconduct.
  • H.R. 4885, IRS Oversight While Eliminating Spending Act of 2016, sponsored by Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., would repeal the IRS’s current authority to spend the user fees it collects without congressional approval. The proposed legislation would restore to Congress full authority over how the IRS spends those resources. The proposal requires the Treasury to deposit the funds from user fees into a general fund that would be used for improving taxpayer services.
  • H.R. 1206, No Hires for the Delinquent IRS Act, sponsored by Rep. David Rouzer, R-N.C., would suspend the hiring of new IRS employees unless the Treasury Secretary certifies that no IRS employees have serious delinquencies with respect to their own tax obligations.
  • H. Res. 673, expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the IRS should provide printed copies of IRS Publication 17 to taxpayers free of charge, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis.
  • H.R. 4903, to prohibit the use of funds by the IRS to target U.S. citizens for exercising any right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, sponsored by Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga.

"The six commonsense proposals we passed this week will make the IRS more efficient, more accountable, and more professional,” Brady said in a statement. “I appreciate my colleagues' leadership on these bills. The Ways and Means Committee will continue to take steps to make sure the IRS focuses on its important mission—serving the American people."
Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, objected to the legislation tying IRS employee bonuses to the development of a customer service strategy and pointed to the White House’s opposition to the Republican-sponsored IRS legislation.

“The problem is not a lack of strategy, it is a lack of resources,” Levin said in a statement. “The House Republicans are trying to pass the buck because they are not providing the bucks necessary for adequate taxpayer services. To say no bonuses for any of the 80,000 IRS employees because the House Republicans are not doing their job is wrong. They are requesting approval of a plan by the agency’s Inspector General that does not carry out this function. That is why the White House says in opposition: ‘Legislation constraining the IRS's ability to retain and recruit highly qualified employees is not needed and could be counterproductive to the Service's mission.’ This place under Republican leadership has been bankrupt. There is a long list of things that this Congress has failed to get done—stopping tax inversions, passing a budget, addressing Zika, helping the people of Flint, and the list goes on and on. So the Republicans come here and say the IRS isn’t doing its job. You’re not doing your job. Don’t go after an agency for not being able to answer the phone when you’re cutting the lines of resources. It’s outrageous. The blame is on your doorstep. Don’t try and shift it.”

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