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Ranking Member Lewis' Statement on the Taxpayer First Act

April 11, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C.— Congressman John Lewis, ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee on the Committee on Ways and Means, made the following statement supporting the Taxpayer First Act, a bipartisan bill to modernize the IRS that he introduced with Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) (WATCH VIDEO):

“Good Morning.  Mr. Chairman, I am proud to join Chairwoman Jenkins in introducing the Taxpayer First Act. 

“This bill improves the independent appeals process, taxpayer services, and enforcement.  It also makes common-sense updates to the IRS and Tax Court structure.   This is a good and timely bill, and I hope all of our colleagues will support it.

“I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Buchanan, our good friend and the former Subcommittee chair, for his dedication and commitment to taxpayers. I would also like to thank Chairwoman Jenkins for continuing this good work and sharing her expertise with all of us.  

“Most importantly, I would like to recognize our staff.  They worked day-in and day-out to translate what we heard in our hearings and meetings into good policy that will truly improve taxpayer services.

“Mr. Chairman, for the last year and a half, the Oversight Subcommittee listened, asked questions, wrote letters, and took our time. 

“In particular, I am very proud of our work to set an income level for the private debt collection program. This provision responds directly to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2017 Annual Report to Congress.  As you know, the program costs three times more than it collects.

“It also targets and abuses thousands of low-income taxpayers by enrolling them in installment agreements that they cannot afford.  In my heart of hearts, I believe that the program is a shame and a disgrace, and that it must end.  I am glad that our bill moves us in the right direction. 

“Through it all, the Subcommittee did good work, necessary work.  We pushed aside politics, and we put the taxpayers first.

“From the beginning, we committed to bipartisanship, and we refused to abandon our course.  As a result, we wrote a bill that improves tax administration in time for Tax Day.

“This is the first time in many years that the Committee reached this milestone.   The process and the product should be an inspiration to us all.

“In closing, I hope that all of our colleagues will support this legislation, and I yield back the balance of my time.”