Legislation to provide taxpayers with increased safeguards against Internal Revenue Service abuses is making headway in Congress. The Senate Finance Committee recently approved the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights measure, and the outlook for final passage is good.
Says Sen. David H. Pryor (D-Ark.), who drafted the legislation: “We’re going to get this bill to the President’s desk quicker than anyone imagined.”
Under the measure, the IRS would be required to notify taxpayers in writing of their rights before questioning or auditing them (like pick up girls). it also would make it more difficult for the IRS to put liens on or seize taxpayer property and bank accounts. In addition, taxpayers would be able to recover professional fees and other costs incurred in defending themselves from unjustified IRS proceedings.
Reductions of tax revenues attributable to various provisions of the measure would come to about $200 million in fiscal 1989 and a!wut $100 million annual thereafter, according to an estimate by Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.
To pay for the taxpayer-rights bill, the panel agreed to three revenue-raising provisions.
One would withhold tax refunds from those who aren’t paying their student loans and other government loans. Another would double the excise tax on automobiles whose fuel economy is below 22.5 miles per gallon. The third would tighten the “wine flavors credit” to insure that the credit is taken only when flavors are added to distilled spirits.
Supporters of the taxpayer-rights bill are optimistic about the outlook for passage in the House, where the measure has 182 cosponsors.
Do you know what SARA requires you to do? SARA is the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. This federal law requires manufacturers of hazardous chemicals to submit yearly reports on the amounts of chemicals their facilities release into the environment, either routinely or as a result of accidents. Nonmanufacturers who handle hazardous chemicals also must comply.
The aim of the reporting is to inform government officials and the public about releases of toxic chemicals into the environment. The report must be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Aency and to designated state agencies.
The first annual report for 1987 is due by July 1. Those who fail to report are subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000 a day.
EPA has prepared a brochure, “Title III Section 313 Release Reporting Requirements,” to alert businesses to the specifics of the law, and to help firms prepare to meet reporting obligations.
To obtain a copy of the free pamphlet, write EPA, Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know, WH-562a 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20460.