Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Washington Feuds over IRS Oversight IRS Plans Monthly Taxpayer Meetings Starting Nov. 15. GOP Urges Deeper Reforms

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Washington Feuds over IRS Oversight IRS Plans Monthly Taxpayer Meetings Starting Nov. 15. GOP Urges Deeper Reforms

Article excerpt

The aftershocks of last week's troubling Senate hearings on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) abuses are still reverberating in Washington.

The hearings, which documented IRS wrongdoing, will probably lead to major changes in how the IRS is managed - although Congress and the administration strongly disagree over who should oversee the tax agency. Meanwhile, the IRS is taking steps to attempt to make the agency more user-friendly. House Republicans, sensing a useful political issue, are trying to harness public concern to their ideas on overall tax reform.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Archer of Texas says he will bring an IRS reform bill to the House floor before Congress adjourns. "If last week's hearings showed anything, they showed that the IRS needs new thinking and a new direction," Mr. Archer says. The committee will work from a proposal - sponsored in the House by Reps. Rob Portman (R) of Ohio and Benjamin Cardin (D) of Maryland - that would implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Restructuring the IRS. The bill calls for an IRS Oversight Board of seven members who are not full-time federal government employees, plus the Treasury secretary and a representative of the Treasury employees' union. The board would then appoint a commissioner with expanded management powers to a five-year term. The Portman-Cardin bill would also strengthen taxpayer rights and make it harder for Congress to make changes that further complicate the tax code. Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) of Nebraska and Sen. Charles Grassley (R) of Iowa are sponsoring a similar measure in the Senate. Recipe for conflict? While praising some aspects of the proposals, the administration opposes a citizens' board, which it calls "a recipe for conflicts of interest, less accountability, and less trust," and has threatened a veto. Its plan would create a 20-person IRS Management Board made up of the deputy Treasury secretary and other government officials. It would also create a second advisory board of 14 private-sector professionals to advise the Treasury secretary on IRS management issues. …

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