[On April 9, 2019] the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1957, the “Taxpayer First Act of 2019.” This legislation, introduced by Representative John Lewis (D-GA) with the support of a bipartisan group of members on the House Ways and Means Committee, is virtually identical to legislation that was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives last Congress.
This bill proposes a modest set of proposals to “redesign” certain IRS operations and procedures, as well as its customer service offering. The legislation would not alter employee performance management systems, restrict employee awards, or rollback employee due process and representation rights. Additionally, the bill does not propose a major restructure or reform of the IRS. Among other things, the legislation would make changes to the Office of Appeals’ administrative review process and change its name to the Office of Independent Appeals and require the IRS to develop a customer service strategy, establish online taxpayer accounts, provide one point of contact for identity theft victims and require notice regarding closure of Taxpayer Assistance Centers. It would also provide streamlined critical pay authority for IT positions for two years.
In addition, the legislation contains two personnel provisions of particular interest to NTEU. The first provision would prohibit the IRS from hiring individuals who have previously been removed by the agency for misconduct, unacceptable performance, or for violating one of the so-called Ten Deadly Sins under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. Unlike past versions of this legislation, this change would apply prospectively to individuals hired after the date of enactment of the bill and would not impact anyone currently employed by the IRS. The second provision would require taxpayer notification by Treasury if there is a proposed administrative determination for discipline or adverse action against an IRS employee owing to the individual’s unauthorized inspection or disclosure of a taxpayer’s return or return information.
This bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. Please be assured NTEU will continue to monitor this legislation and will work with our supporters to ensure any proposals to “redesign” the IRS continue to focus on tax administrative items, and do not make substantive changes to IRS personnel laws, including proposals to alter employee performance management systems, restrict employee awards, or rollback employee due process and representation rights.