Buchanan, Taxpayer Advocate Prep for IRS Restructuring

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By Colleen Murphy

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson met for the first time May 3 to begin talking about restructuring the IRS once tax reform legislation is complete.

Olson’s office wasn’t included in the House GOP tax overhaul blueprint released in June 2016, but Buchanan—who confirmed the meeting to Bloomberg BNA—said “we want to make sure that she’s got just as many opportunities as she’s had so far” in a revamped agency and that he wants her input on changes.

“This needs to be reviewed—what works, what doesn’t work and how can we make the system work?” he said.

Members of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, of which Buchanan is the chairman, said they haven’t spent much time digging into the restructuring lately, because the committee plans to take it on after finalizing its tax reform bill. Still, the meeting between Buchanan and Olson, who is well-known among tax practitioners, is a sign the process is beginning.

The subcommittee will hold a hearing on changes to the IRS this month, Buchanan said.

Making Changes

The House GOP blueprint proposes a taxpayer-centric agency made up of three units instead of four, with an administrator to oversee it instead of a commissioner.

While the meeting lasted about 30 minutes and remained high level, Buchanan said he and Olson also discussed ways to speed up the dispute resolution process between businesses and the IRS and ways to give Olson’s office “additional clout” in future legislation.

Olson described the meeting to Bloomberg BNA as a chance to get acquainted with Buchanan. She said she will continue talking with members of the Ways and Means Committee “to refine proposals that will improve the agency’s responsiveness to the needs and preferences of U.S. taxpayers.”

Olson each year submits a set of recommendations to Congress on areas in which the agency can improve how it works with taxpayers and administers tax laws. She has previously said she supports the service-first mantra described in the blueprint, and that her 2017 annual report will serve as a starting point for conversations.

Buchanan had a similar meeting with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in February.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colleen Murphy in Washington at cmurphy@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meg Shreve at mshreve@bna.com

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