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Ways and Means Approves IRS Hiring, Agriculture Tax Reform Bills

Lisa Varela

Ways and Means Approves IRS Hiring, Agriculture Tax Reform Bills

House tax writers have moved two bills through committee. The bills focus on IRS hiring and the tax treatment of mutual ditch irrigation companies. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the measures in a June 21 markup.

IRS Hiring

The Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce bill (HR 3500) would set certain restrictions on the IRS’s hiring policy. The bipartisan bill would amend Code Sec. 7804 to prohibit the rehiring of any employee previously dismissed for certain misconduct issues.

The bill comes after two Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) reports noted that the IRS rehired hundreds of former employees with conduct violations. Over 200 of the more than 2,000 former employees rehired between January 2015 and March 2016 were previously terminated from the IRS for a substantiated conduct or performance issue, according to a July 2017 TIGTA report. Inspector General J. Russell George previously told lawmakers that the particular IRS hiring process is “bad decision making.”

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., originally passed the House with bipartisan support in the 114th Congress. However, the Senate never took up the measure. Also, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., introduced a related bill in the Senate.

“If a person is fired for falsifying information or mishandling sensitive taxpayer data, it’s common sense that individuals should not be rehired,” Noem said in a June 21 press release. “Nonetheless, the IRS has done this repeatedly.”

Agriculture Tax Reform

Additionally, the Ways and Means Committee approved the Water and Agriculture Tax Reform bill (HR 519). The bill aims to facilitate water leasing and transfers to promote conservation and efficiency. HR 519 would amend the “tax treatment of mutual water storage and delivery companies so that they can maintain their nonprofit status even if more than 15 percent of their revenue comes from nonmembers,” according to a June 21 press release by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo.

HR 519 and HR 3500 are now headed to the House floor.