Ranking Member Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing with the National Taxpayer Advocate

May 19, 2017
Press Release

Remarks as prepared)

Good Morning.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing with the National Taxpayer Advocate.  I would also like to thank our witness for being here today.  

Mr. Chairman, we must approach the important matter of reforming and improving the Internal Revenue Service with a great deal of care.  We must remain focused on doing what is right and what is just for the interests of every American taxpayer.  If we stay on a bipartisan path, together we help the IRS become a model of success for constituent services.

The IRS is a large and complex organization that has suffered from a lack of resources for many years.  Congress cut the agency’s budget by almost $1 billion since 2010.  These cuts harm taxpayer services and tax compliance, and the IRS needs technology, infrastructure, and employees to provide secure, quality, customer service.  For these reasons, responsible reform must include strong, robust funding.  

As we study the IRS structure and services, we must also consider how much the world has changed since Congress last acted on this matter.  Over the last 20 years, smartphones and Internet access created opportunities for some and barriers for others.  Both taxpayers -- and those who serve them --struggle with increased identity theft, fraud, and scams.  Unfortunately, certain programs like private debt collection, which have been tried and repeatedly failed, just lend to more confusion. 

Mr. Chairman, I believe that we agree on the importance of an agency that would provide taxpayers with greater access to customer service online, over the phone, and in person.  I believe we can help build a tax administration system that will take advantage of new technology while enhancing the security of taxpayer data.  I believe that we must do better, and that if we work together, we can do better. 

I look forward to hearing from the National Taxpayer Advocate today and learning more from her experiences with taxpayers and the agency.  Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing.