Representative Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, today introduced the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2012 in the House of Representatives. Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced an identical companion bill in the Senate. Rep. Becerra and Senator Bingaman have long worked together to champion the rights of taxpayers, particularly those with modest incomes.
"The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act will help improve taxpayer services for all of America's working families," Rep. Becerra said. "By clarifying taxpayer rights and responsibilities, increasing access to competent and professional tax preparation services, and improving taxpayer interaction with the IRS, this legislation helps enhance the ability of taxpayers to meet their obligations."
"This bill requires IRS to inform Americans of their basic rights as taxpayers, such as the right to receive assistance and the right to appeal IRS decisions. It also lends support to preparation services, like Tax Help New Mexico, which helps thousands of taxpayers in our state file returns," said Bingaman.
Among its widely supported provisions, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act would:
Require the IRS to publish a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that clarifies the rights and obligations of American taxpayers.
Create a grant program that authorizes $35 million for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and increase the authorization for Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) to $20 million. The bill also authorizes the IRS to refer taxpayers to LITCs, which can assist taxpayers with disputes they may have with the IRS.
Codify the existing authority of the IRS to regulate paid tax return preparers and enhance oversight of providers of high-cost tax refund related products to ensure providers of these services are competent and accountable.
Enhance modest-income taxpayers' access to financial institutions.
Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, praised the Becerra-Bingaman bill:
"The Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act of 2012 incorporates many proposals I have made and would substantially benefit our nation's taxpayers," Olson sad. "It would establish a simple statement of taxpayer rights and obligations, confirm congressional support for regulating tax return preparers, protect taxpayers from unwarranted lien-filings that can destroy their financial viability and impair their future tax compliance, expand programs for low income taxpayers, and require the IRS to conduct studies designed to deliver refunds more quickly and thereby reduce the market for expensive refund-related products."