WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr.
(R-DE) today said that the expedited process for IRS reform that Senator
Bob Kerrey and others are calling for would result in the watering down
of many taxpayer protections and IRS oversight mechanisms in his comprehensive
IRS overhaul bill.
The Finance Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill on Tuesday,
March 31. Roth has said that he expects final action on the bill to be
completed this spring.
He released the following statement:
" I appreciate the advice of Senator Bob Kerrey and the work
he, Senator Grassely, Congressman Portman and others did on the National
Commission to Restructure the IRS. The information and ideas for reform
that they brought to Congress following their year-long effort were invaluable
in providing a foundation for restructuring what has become the most secretive
and abusive agency in government.
"But Senator Kerrey has said something this morning that I
think is important to keep in mind. In suggesting that we should expedite
IRS reform to meet the April 15th deadline for taxpayers to file their
returns, he said that we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the
"My question is, why?
"In 1990, Congressman Doug Barnard held hearings to explore
myriad complaints of abuse and mismanagement within the IRS. The service
promised reform. Commissioner Fred Goldberg was cheered in Congress for
his active initiative to work with Congress to push through reforms that
many said would solve the problems that Congress had identified.
"Congress went out of session and everyone claimed victory.
Now, not even ten years later, we find ourselves plagued by problems with
the service that result in literal tragedies in the lives of taxpayers
and employees alike. We know -- everyone in Congress knows -- that we will
have one real chance this year to make necessary and lasting reforms. To
rush, as Congress has before, is to rob the taxpayer and employees of the
IRS of the reform and protections they need.
"To rush in an effort to hit an artificial deadline would require
-- and my good colleague Senator Kerrey knows this -- us to water down
the reform this bill contains.
"Americans need an opportunity to hear what we propose. This
bill is replete with strong, vital measures that will protect taxpayers
and employees. It will give taxpayers more rights. It will require 30-day
notice before the IRS can seize property or other assets. It will protect
innocent spouses. It will provide for more stringent and continued oversight
of the agency. It will allow greater independence for investigation of
wrong-doing against taxpayers and employees. And these are only a few of
the measures this bill proposes.
"It is a real reform bill. Had we acted when many were challenging
us to more forward with reform last year, we wouldn't have a fraction of
the protections this bill provides. If we rush now, many will be lost.
It's that simple.
"April 15th is the day most Americans focus on the Internal
Revenue Service. But let's remember that the pain and torment we've uncovered
in the course of several years worth of Congressional efforts to plumb
the depths of the IRS go on every single day of the year. For small businessmen,
innocent spouses, families, farmers, and employees caught in the crosshairs
of the IRS, everyday is tax day.
"These are the people we are trying to protect with the bill
we have proposed. They need the strong measures and protections this bill
provides. Let's not let them down for purposes of meeting an artificial