The House on April 9 approved by voice vote a bipartisan, bicameral IRS reform bill. The IRS bill, which now heads to the Senate, would redesign the IRS for the first time in over 20 years.

IRS Reform

The Taxpayer First Act of 2019 (HR 1957), as amended, cleared the House Ways and Means Committee by voice on April 2. The House and Senate both introduced the bicameral, bipartisan measure on March 28. If enacted, the bill would make numerous reforms to the IRS, some of which include modernizing antiquated information technology systems and enhancing taxpayer services and identity protections.

“With a new tax code, it is time for a new tax administrator,” House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Tex., said in an April 9 statement. “I applaud the House for passing the Taxpayer First Act—a bold step to redesign the IRS to be an agency with one singular mission: putting taxpayers first.”

The IRS Reform bill has been “years in the making,” Brady said on April 9, echoing a joint statement that he and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., along with other bipartisan tax writers recently issued. “The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have carefully and thoughtfully developed this legislation over several years, after numerous hearings and roundtables, in a bipartisan, bicameral manner,” the lawmakers said.

AICPA Applauds Taxpayer First Act

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) issued an April 9 statement commending the House for passing HR 1957. “The AICPA appreciates the bipartisan recognition by members of the U.S. House of Representatives for bringing the Internal Revenue Service into the 21st Century,” Edward S. Karl, vice president of taxation, said in a statement on behalf of the AICPA. “The AICPA has long been interested in and active in working to find ways to modernize the IRS so that it can better serve the needs of taxpayers and tax practitioners.”

Free File Alliance

However, the bipartisan, bicameral bill has not advanced without its share of criticism. Several Democratic lawmakers have criticized a provision within the bill that would codify the Free File Alliance, which is an agreement between the IRS and certain tax preparation companies that includes the IRS being unable to directly assist in tax return preparation.

“Again and again in my service in the Senate I have battled the tax-preparation software industry to simplify filing taxes for the typical American,” Senate Finance Committee (SFC) ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an April 9 statement. “During the debate on the tax administration bill, my staff pushed back on a prohibition on the agency competing with private tax preparation services, and I will continue to push for my proposal for the pre-filed ‘simple’ return and the principle that a taxpayer should not have to use a private company to pay their taxes online,” he added.

Looking Ahead

It remains unclear when the Senate will take up the Taxpayer First Act bill. However, the bill is presently expected on Capitol Hill to easily be approved in the Senate.