The House of Representatives is poised to consider several bills that would increase accountability of the IRS and strengthen agency oversight.  ATR and the Cost of Government Center support these reforms, and encourage members to vote in favor of passage.

H.R. 5420 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to permit the release of information regarding the status of certain investigations.  Currently, victimized taxpayers whose confidential information has been inappropriately made public by the IRS are not required to be notified.  H.R. 5420 would restore victims’ rights by ensuring taxpayers would not only be made aware of what confidential information has been leaked, but would also be apprised of the progress of the investigations involving their personal information.

H.R. 5418 would prohibit IRS officers and employees from using their personal email accounts to conduct official business.  Investigation into the targeting of individuals by the IRS has found that employees have been exposing confidential taxpayer information by conducting business using their personal email accounts.  H.R. 5418 would prohibit this risky behavior, and increase both taxpayer information security by also requiring a full record of business activity conducted.

H.R. 5419 would amend the Internal Revenue Code by providing the right to an administrative appeal relating to rejection of tax-exempt status.  Current practices do not allow groups that have been denied a tax-exempt status by the IRS to seek an appeal.  H.R. 5419 would rein in the ability of faceless bureaucrats to dictate the First Amendment rights of private citizens and allow groups the right to appeal these decisions.

H.R. 5169, The SES Accountability Act, would require senior officials to face the same disciplinary protocol as those they supervise.  Probationary periods would be lengthened and expeditious termination would be required of Senior Executive Service (SES) members who underperform and partake in misconduct.  Additionally, paid administrative leave for employees on notice of termination would no longer be described as a paid vacation.  Upon termination, SES members would be required to repay the government for paid administrative leave that was accumulated while on termination notice.  This would prevent higher-ranking officials from defending against abuse in their departments by claiming ignorance of subordinates’ activities.

H.R. 5170, The Federal Records Accountability Act, would create a process for removal of employees who intentionally destroy federal records.  H.R. 5170 would prevent the utilization of non-official messaging and email accounts to conduct official business unless messages are forwarded immediately to official business accounts.  This bill would require federal agencies to automatically capture both emails and instant messages, and to preserve all electronic records in an electronic format.  Finally, agencies would be required to disclose the loss of any federal records in agency custody on their public websites.

Americans for Tax Reform and the Cost of Government Center support these efforts to rein in abusive action by the IRS and increase accountability in federal agencies.  We encourage members to vote in support of these bills.