WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the Increase Reliable Services Now Act, legislation that would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from hiring new enforcement employees until basic taxpayer service targets – including improved phone services and more efficient tax return processing – are reached. The bill would also prohibit the IRS from using enforcement appropriations in the so-called Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to audit taxpayers with annual incomes of less than $400,000 at a greater rate than at the date of the IRA’s enactment.
“The IRS continually fails to deliver basic customer service to taxpayers. Rather than improving those services, Democrats have prioritized doubling the size of the agency in order to raise revenue to help pay for their reckless and partisan tax-and-spending spree,” said Thune. “More tax collectors will not bring relief to Americans who are waiting on their tax refunds, nor will it help them more easily get ahold of an IRS representative. Our bill proposes actionable steps to prioritize and improve basic customer service at the IRS, from which all taxpayers can immediately benefit.”
“Americans deserve a government that is responsive, yet the IRS has consistently failed to provide taxpayers with the service they should expect. Incredibly, four out of five phone calls from taxpayers seeking assistance go unanswered, and tax refunds have been unacceptably delayed,” said Collins. “Our legislation would fix the IRS’ misplaced priorities by requiring the agency to focus on improving customer service and reducing backlogs.”
This week, Thune also introduced a bill that would prevent the IRS from using any of the $80 billion of new funding to the agency for audits on American workers and small business owners who earn less than $400,000 per year.
The Increase Reliable Services Now Act would prohibit the IRS from hiring new “examinations and collections” (enforcement) employees until basic taxpayer service targets are reached. Specifically, the bill would prohibit the hiring of new IRS enforcement employees until the agency maintains adequate taxpayer phone service (at least 70 percent of phone calls being answered for six consecutive months and an average speed of answering phone calls in five minutes or less). It would also require at least 90 percent of IRS employees to work in person at their job sites.
In addition, the bill would prohibit any hiring, other than return processing and call center personnel, until the backlog of processing taxpayer correspondence, tax forms, and payments is not in excess of 1 million cases and eligible tax return refunds are issued by the IRS within six weeks or less, on average, of receipt.
The Increase Reliable Services Now Act is supported by the National Taxpayers Union and Americans for Tax Reform.