SITREP - April 23rd, 2016


Date: April 23, 2016
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Taxes

Over the past five years I have received countless letters from constituents expressing a general distaste for the Internal Revenue Service. And let me tell you, I share in the frustration. Although another tax day has come and gone, the IRS is always lurking.

Let's recap some highlights (rather, lowlights) briefly. I think we all remember when the IRS deliberately targeted and audited groups based on their political beliefs. How about when they distributed nearly $50 million in fraudulent tax returns? Just last year, hundreds of IRS employees were found to have neglected the agency's own guidelines when filing their own taxes. What's worse, a handful of IRS employees failed to even file their taxes in the first place! To top it all off, the IRS recently issued millions in bonuses to its employees.

Give me a break.

The American people shouldn't be afraid of their government. The government should be focused on serving the people. When bureaucratic agencies continue to abuse taxpayer dollars (and their power), it's no wonder that we the people distrust an agency like the IRS.

In light of all this, I am happy to report that your United States House of Representatives went to bat for you this week. Among other things, we passed a bill prohibiting the IRS from rehiring employees who have been fired for misconduct (probably shouldn't have been necessary in the first place). We voted to eliminate the agency's internal slush fund that was being filled by taxpayer user fees. We blocked the IRS from issuing employee bonuses. We've also passed legislation creating real incentives for the IRS to turn around its horrendous customer service record. Finally, if the Senate passes our bills and the President signs them, the IRS will be forbidden from hiring any new employee until it can certify that no IRS employees are delinquent on their own taxes.

While all of these measures are helpful, I'd really prefer to just get rid of the IRS in its entirety. I am one of the dedicated sponsors of a bill to do just that. The FairTax (which I think many of you already know) is an idea that I have been championing since the day I stepped into Congress. Frankly, I think it's about time for our country to see taxation in a more sensible, just and transparent way.

As policymakers, our aim should be to make paying taxes as painless as possible, the burden as low as possible, and the efficiency as great as possible. The tax code we're operating under now achieves none of those goals. Instead, it supports an agency vulnerable to bad actors, abuse and mismanagement. It's time we scrapped the current code and started over with something better. The FairTax is that solution.

Taxes ensure a strong national defense and a robust infrastructure system along with the well-being of Social Security and Medicare programs. Taxes are a civic duty and the reality of a safe and secure country. As Benjamin Franklin once quipped, "in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." But the latter should not have to feel like the former.

Usually at this point I would ask to hear your thoughts about how you feel about the IRS -- but, let's be honest, it's an agency that has little fanfare. Even though we may disagree from time to time, I think we can all stand in a shared disdain for the Tax Man.

And to that end, if you are having trouble with the IRS or any other federal entity, feel free to reach out to my office. We are here to help.

Rich Nugent
Member of Congress