Recent congressional hearings focusing on the abuses taxpayers have suffered under the strong arm of the IRS are leading to changes that, sponsors say, will finally bring about meaningful reform to the agency. The proposals will be especially welcome to individual taxpayers and small-business owners, who often find it difficult to deal with the nation's tax collector.
While most observers agree change is long overdue, they say there is a good deal more behind the Senate hearings and the IRS overhaul legislation than just the need to make the agency more taxpayer-responsive. "Party politics have started to overtake the issues," says Greg Jenner, national director of federal tax policy in the Washington, DC, office of Coopers & Lybrand LLP.
Former IRS commissioner Don Alexander agrees: "The Republicans need an issue, and they have a very popular one--`We hate the IRS, so we are going to run against the service.' "
Joan Szabo is a writer in McLean, Virginia, who has reported on tax issues for more than 12 years.