IRS Reform Bill

June 12, 1998

Congress is considering an IRS Reform Bill that might make life a little easier for some taxpayers. Most of these reforms are window dressing made to make the IRS look like a kinder and gentler agency. But at least they address five major widely felt irritants.

1. Innocent spouse: Recently divorced taxpayers are sometimes shocked when the IRS seeks back taxes from them because a former mate didn't report some income on a past joint return or took invalid deductions. The Senate version of the bill would let a spouse limit this liability to a proportionate share.

2. Audits: The bill would curtail invasive examinations in which agents look for signs of unreported income by checking what car you drive or which private school your child attends.

3. Burden of Proof: Currently a taxpayer must prove that he or she doesn't owe the tax. The bill would reverse the burden, making it the IRS's job to prove the tax liability.

4. Suing the IRS: The bill would also make more taxpayers eligible for an informal, expedited Tax Court hearing without the need of a lawyer.

5. Penalties: Under the bill, taxpayers who have worked out an installment plan for clearing up back taxes would still pay interest, but the bill would partially or completely eliminate the penalty payment now imposed.

Currently the IRS Reform Bill is committee and the differences between the House and Senate versions must be ironed out. No one thinks this is the ultimate solution to IRS abuse and tax code simplification. But the bill is worthy of passage. It make some needed changes, and it reminds us that the IRS needs to be reigned in and the tax code needs to be reformed.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International