Capitol Hill – bipartisan at least on this topic – is open to reforming the IRS, said members of the National Association of Enrolled Agents after their recent 10th annual “fly-in” to speak to members of the House and Senate in Washington.

“It’s been a very long time since IRS reform resonated at all on the Hill,” said Robert Kerr, executive vice president of the NAEA. “This year we got some indication from both sides of the aisle and both chambers that there’s some appetite for [IRS restructuring].”

The last major changes to the tax agency were in 1998, as a result of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act, which, among many other things, created the IRS Oversight Board.

Members of the NAEA visiting the offices of California Senator Dianne Feinstein during the 2018 "Fly-In."
Members of the NAEA visiting the offices of California Senator Dianne Feinstein during the 2018 "Fly-In." Courtesy NAEA

More than 100 NAEA members from nearly 40 states met with their respective elected officials on Capitol Hill on May 15 to ask for congressional support for IRS reform, establishing minimum standards for tax preparers, and the need for cosponsors of the Electronic Signature Standards Act.

NAEA members are asking Congress to require the IRS to provide guidance on the use of electronic signature applications that give taxpayers the ability to grant powers-of-attorney and third party disclosure authorization to licensed tax practitioners.

“Conversations I had on both sides of the aisle on the Senate Finance Committee think we can do something with IRS reform this year,” Kerr said. “It was encouraging to hear. We also received positive feedback from both sides of the aisle on minimum standards, and the e-signature issue seemed a complete non-event. ‘Why would we not do that?’ was the most common [comment].”

These meetings followed prior discussions between NAEA and congressional leaders, including a set of recommendations on IRS reform that the association sent recently to members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees.

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Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson

Jeff Stimpson is a veteran freelance journalist who previously served as editor of The Practical Accountant.