With tax time looming, complaints have been rolling in of long waits dealing with the Internal Revenue Service.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said in his weekly press call Tuesday that he and his fellow Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee will put forward legislation to address long call hold times with the IRS as volume ramps up due to next month’s deadline.
“The average wait time,” Reed said, “just to make a payment — is 46 minutes.”
Wait times can be upward of two hours at times to get answers to questions, he said.
“My priority is improving how people interact with the IRS,” he said.
He also cited the agency’s use of FORTRAN, a programming language dating back to the 1950s run on mainframe computers, most using the standard created in 1977.
“The IRS,” Reed said, “is using obsolete tools. … At the end of the day, when someone takes the initiative to pick up the phone and call the IRS, we owe it to them.”
Changes to the tax code implemented earlier this year won’t take effect for returns due April 15, Reed said, which will eventually lead to simpler returns.
“We’re still dealing with the old tax code — and the extreme complexity, in my opinion,” he said.
“We’ve had multiple oversight hearings directly with the IRS,” Reed said, and there is bipartisan support for pushing the agency into a “more of a service-based agency than a ‘Gotcha’-type agency.”
REED ALSO said he would support a water and sewer infrastructure bill proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., today as long as there would be a provision to get funding to local municipalities without being tied up in state governments.
The PIPE Act, proposed by Gillibrand, would offer $5 billion over 10 years to support water and wastewater infrastructure projects nationwide.
Gillibrand said the PIPE Act would establish a discretionary grant program, allowing state, local, and tribal governments and public water utilities to apply for grants.
“Too many communities in New York have pipes that are old and leaking, lack sewer systems, and have outdated technology that isn’t doing a good enough job of keeping wastewater from polluting the environment,” Gillibrand said in the release announcing the bill.
According to a report by the New York state comptroller’s office, drinking water and wastewater infrastructure will require tens of billions of dollars in investment in the coming decades. Wastewater treatment facilities are, on average, 30 years old, and 30 percent of the underground sewers are over 60 years old and operating beyond their useful life expectancy.
“I would definitely support that,” Reed said, as long as “it gets to our rural communities.”
Reed said his concern is that states will receive the funds, handing it out to areas in a state that support the sitting state government.
IN ADDITION, Reed reaffirmed his support for President Donald Trump’s announcement on fighting the opioid epidemic, including support for the death penalty against some drug dealers.
In the future, Reed said the government should “go after those most dangerous dealers with our most powerful tools available to law enforcement,” adding capital punishment “is the most powerful tool.”
Capital punishment, while still on the books for federal crimes, is very rare. The U.S. government has executed three people since 1963, including Timothy McVeigh for the murder of federal officers in the 1995 Oklahoma City Building bombing; Juan Raul Garza in 2001 for ordering several murders in conjunction with a drug-smuggling ring; and Lois Jones Jr. in 2003 for the rape and murder of an Army private.
Another tool, Reed said, could be pushing for opioid-manufacturing companies to be held accountable for the role they may play in the epidemic.
(Contact reporter-editor Bob Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)