Chairman Quigley Statement at Hearing on FY 2020 IRS Budget Request

2019-04-09 11:00

Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL), Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget request for the Internal Revenue Service:

Good Afternoon, the hearing will come to order. 

I know it is a very busy time at the IRS with less than a week left to the filing season, so I want to welcome Commissioner Rettig and thank him for taking the time to be with us this afternoon. 

I know this is your first filing season as the IRS Commissioner and we are interested in hearing your observations and visions for the IRS.

Speaking of the filing season, Congress provided an additional $397 million in the past two years to address system updates and needed new staff to help implement the 2017 Tax Law. 

However, in the weeks leading up to tax filing season, we experienced the longest federal government shutdown which delayed hiring, training, and updating systems and tax guidance.  

I want to thank your staff for their dedication and perseverance and I’m curious to hear how the shutdown has impacted the filing season and IRS’s cyclical workload.

The IRS makes up half our subcommittee bill and under the previous majority has been chronically underfunded for the last decade — underfunded despite issues like tax evasion, elder fraud and identity theft. So, we want to reverse those trends and provide resources tied to results.

Speaking of funding, the President’s fiscal year 2020 budget requests $11.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for the IRS, constituting an increase over current spending levels. 

The majority of the increases are to support the Operations Support and Business Systems Modernization accounts. 

Based on the IRS’s six-year Integrated Modernization Business Plan, the IRS will dedicate $290 million of appropriated funds to update IRS’s legacy computing infrastructure. 

I hope you can share more details about IRS’s modernization plan and how it will benefit U.S. taxpayers.  

Your fiscal year 2020 budget request includes an additional $362 million for a program integrity cap adjustment that would provide $200 million to Enforcement and $162 million to Operations Support.

Since 2011, the IRS Enforcement program’s staff has been cut by 27 percent. 

As a result, the number of audits and investigations have been reduced, and the most recent voluntary compliance rate is only 81.7 percent.  

These funds are needed to correct the downward staffing trend in Enforcement and improve combatting cyber security.  

We should do better.

I know we all have to prioritize and make tough choices within the funds provided, but by cutting IRS Enforcement, what message does this send to the American people?

The IRS revenue collection efforts play a significant role in funding federal government operations and a robust Enforcement program reminds tax cheats that there are consequences for ignoring their tax obligations.

Lastly, I would like to remind us all of IRS’s mission to provide America’s taxpayers with top quality service. 

We need to improve the taxpayers’ experience by,

  • reducing wait times for callers trying to resolve a tax issue,
  • increasing support to programs that assist the elderly and low-income populations file their taxes and,
  • providing quality and timely resolutions to victims of tax identity theft.

In closing, I would like to thank Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate for her 18 years of service.  She has been a champion for the US taxpayer and provided insightful recommendations on how to improve the IRS and the taxpayers experience. We thank her for her service and valuable contributions.

That said, thank you again for taking the time to meet with us today.

I look forward to hearing your testimony this afternoon.

Let me turn now to Ranking Member Graves for his comments. 

116th Congress