President Bill Clinton signed a politically popular bill Tuesday and promised taxpayers greater muscle in disputes with the IRS.
"You have rights," he declared. "And we will shield them."
The measure, known as the Taxpayer Bill of Rights II, allows taxpayers to sue the Internal Revenue Service for up to $1 million for reckless collections - 10 times the current $100,000 cap on such lawsuits.
The law is a companion to the original Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which was passed in 1988 and sought to make the IRS more user-friendly.
Under the new bill, taxpayers also will have the right to sue anyone filing false information about matters such as wages and interest income.
The new law expanded the powers of the IRS' independent taxpayers' advocate, an office that requires the agency to issue refund checks and meet deadlines in performing tasks for taxpayers.
"We have to make sure that the IRS doesn't tangle the American people up in red tape, that it is not arbitrary, and that taxpayers are treated with the respect to which they're entitled," Clinton said.
The bill, passed easily by Congress, gave Clinton an election-year opportunity to show he was dealing with a major voter headache: the IRS. And he said his administration had acted on its own to allow taxes to be filed "simpler, quicker" - by telephone and computer.
Republican rival Bob Dole's campaign scoffed at Clinton's remarks. …