Politico: House GOP Balks at Chasing Tax Cheats

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 10:21 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Amid the ongoing Internal Revenue Service tea party targeting scandal, House Republicans are turning their backs on Senate plans to go after tax cheats, Politico reports.

The GOP is snubbing potential legislation from the upper chamber to chase doctors who owe back taxes, catch taxpayers who overstate their mortgage interest reduction, and prevent people from wrongly claiming a child tax credit.

The reluctance of the GOP to support the Democrat-controlled Senate is a direct backlash over the IRS excessively scrutinizing tax-exempt claims by conservative groups, Politico said.

"There’s not a whole lot of confidence right now about what the IRS does among the American people, let alone members of Congress," said Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi of Ohio, who sits on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. "Why should we give them more tools to harass taxpayers?"

Floyd Williams, the IRS’s former director of legislative affairs, said that politics is also playing a major part in the reason that House Republicans are turning up their noses during an election year at a crackdown on tax dodgers

"If you want a simple message, and a focus on how bad the IRS is, it’s hard to vote to give them more tools," said Williams.

Democrats in the Senate have slammed Republicans in the House for balking at legislation aimed at collecting at least a portion of the $400 billion in taxes that go unpaid every year.

Noting that tax-collection bills are usually bipartisan measures, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said, "This has been a traditional position supported by both sides of the aisle. Certainly, this is a departure that needs to be addressed."

Even Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, appeared to aim a shot at the House GOP members, saying, "I don’t think Senate Republicans on the finance committee have a big problem with just making sure taxes that are owed are being collected. It’s just a function of enforcing the law."

The Senate committee has approved by voice vote a measure requiring mortgage servicers to report to the IRS the loan balance, the mortgage origination date, and the address of properties for which taxpayers claim the mortgage interest deduction.

Mortgage lenders are currently only required to report the total amount of interest paid, making it difficult for the IRS to keep tabs on whether the deduction was properly claimed. The new Senate plan would raise an estimated $2 billion.

A second proposal would increase the total amount of Medicare payments the IRS may seize from doctors owing overdue taxes to 100 percent from the current 15 percent, Politico reported, resulting in a potential windfall of $800 million for the agency.

A third measure, which could put $1.3 billion in IRS coffers, would give the agency more time to conduct an inquiry into cases where taxpayers may have deliberately underestimated how much profit they earned in the sale of a property or home.

A fourth provision would mandate penalties on tax accountants who fail to make certain that their clients qualify for the child tax credits they claim.
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