Shaking Up the IRS

Because the recently completed budget deal includes so many changes to the tax code, it's unlikely Congress will make major tax policy changes any time soon. But lawmakers do seem ready for some serious debate about shaking up the Internal Revenue Service.

A national commission on restructuring the IRS, co-chaired by Sen. Robert Kerrey, D-Neb., and Rep. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, in June recommended a series of changes, including placing the agency under the control of a new seven-member board rather than the Treasury Department. The Administration is strongly opposed to the idea.

Legislation to implement the commission's recommendations was introduced on Capitol Hill in July. There's already been one hearing on the Portman-Kerrey proposals before the House Ways and Means Committee, and L. Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for the committee's chairman, Rep. Bil Archer, R-Texas, says more hearings and possibly a markup will take place this fall.

An IRS restructuring bill could even be passed and sent to the President as early as March or April of 1998, Fleischer predicts. "Getting the IRS out of people's lives one step at a time," he says, "is a very important step toward the eventual goal of total tax reform."

But William G. Gale, a tax expert at the Brookings Institution, says the IRS is simply a convenient target. "One of the great ironies of all this is that one direction the debate goes is that now Congress will focus its attention on the IRS and claim that they're doing a poor job administering the tax system and neglect to mention the fact that the tax system is a holy mess precisely because of the laws that Congress has passed," says Gale. "The IRS is by no means a perfect agency, but having to administer this tax system, they're starting with one hand tied behind their back."

This article is excerpted from "A Hike in Complexity" from the August 23 issue of National Journal.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.