Rep. John Lewis Wins Passage of Taxpayer Protection Act
. As the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Oversight, one of the first hearings Rep. Lewis called was an investigation of predatory lending practices which target vulnerable customers desperate to get credit and saddle them with debilitating debt. The committee also looked at identity theft and misleading use of the Internal Revenue Service web identity for profit. The bill was passed with overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats because of its practicality, necessity, and fiscal responsibility. The act meets pay-go requirements, which mandate any expenditure paid to implement the legislation to be provided for through fiscal mechanisms within the legislation.
"Today we are reminded," said Rep. Lewis, who managed time on the House floor during this vote, "that we must protect taxpayers from fraudulent tax schemes, misleading websites and predatory refund loans. The Taxpayer Protection Act is an important first step in standing up for the American taxpayer and moves us in the right direction toward simplifying tax issues for the average taxpayer."
The Taxpayer Protection Act (H.R. 1677):
- Increases taxpayer protections from "predatory" lenders who offer tax refund anticipation loans, gives taxpayers more time to recover property seized improperly by the IRS, and works to stop the widespread tax fraud initiated by inmates of federal prisons.
- Cracks down on misleading websites that seek to get personal information from citizens by imitating the IRS and increases both civil and criminal penalties for these offenses.
- Requires the IRS to notify a taxpayer in the course of a tax fraud investigation when it suspects that his or her taxpayer identity may have been used unlawfully.
- Simplifies tax filing requirements for businesses owned jointly by husbands and wives.
- Strengthens IRS outreach to ensure that citizens eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are aware of the benefit and know what steps to take to get it. Unclaimed EITC represents billions of dollars in additional revenue to families across America. Rep. Lewis also held a hearing on why this credit, available for years, was still underutilized by eligible families.
In addition, under Democratic leadership, the House of Representatives has already passed $1.3 billion in tax cuts to help small businesses grow and hire new workers, without adding to the federal deficit. House Democrats are also committed to ending the "Parent Penalty" and providing a long term fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax.