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Clinton Proposes IRS Reforms

President responds to congressional hearings, GOP pressure

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 10) -- In a move to shake up the Internal Revenue Service, President Bill Clinton today announced a package of reforms for the most hated government agency in America.

Clinton said he took a particular interest in last month's congressional hearings, which focused a spotlight on the agency's high-handed treatment and mistreatment of some taxpayers.

"Like most Americans, I was genuinely angered by the stories of our citizens harassed and humiliated by what seemed to them to be an all-powerful, unaccountable and often downright tone-deaf agency," Clinton said. (416K wav sound)

Clinton's proposals include extending telephone service hours; creating private citizen advocacy boards in each IRS region to hear taxpayer complaints; banning dollar goals that give IRS agents the wrong incentives; and simplifying tax forms to make them easier to understand. (352K wav sound)

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"You have rights as a taxpayer that will be protected," Clinton promised.

The president said the administration has tried to make the agency more customer-friendly in recent years by expanding electronic and telephone filing, signing a new taxpayers' "Bill of Rights" and other steps. But, he said, more actions are needed.

"The IRS should be above reproach," Clinton said. "Americans who work hard and pay their taxes deserve to be treated fairly and no one should ever have a home, a car, a livelihood threatened by unaccountable actions of government. Abuse or bullying or callousness by officials of our government are unacceptable whenever and wherever they occur. If they occur once, it's once too many, but especially in connection with the IRS, it is important that they be rooted out."

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While Clinton said his administration has been looking at "reinventing" the IRS since last May, officials have been on the spot since last month's congressional hearings, where ordinary taxpayers told horror stories of how the agency harassed and intimidated them.

"For eight months I lived in constant worry, if not fear, that the trust that my dear mother had established to help the poor would be penalized because of what I can only call the unprofessional, callous and indifferent behavior of IRS employees," said one witness, Msgr. Lawrence Ballweg.

Another witness, Katherine Hicks, told Congress, "The conduct of the IRS remains the same, and for thousands of taxpayers, there is no help ... The IRS is judge, jury and executioner, answerable to none."

Clinton's package includes about 200 specific recommendations; some can be done by executive order, but some will require congressional action.

CNN's John King contributed to this report.

In Other News:

Friday Oct. 10, 1997

Clinton Again Vetoes Abortion Ban
Clinton Proposes IRS Reforms
Air Force Secretary Widnall Stepping Down
More Congressional Grumbling On Line-Item Veto
Clinton Considering Extending Emissions Targets
Tape Shows Reagan White House Fund-Raising Pitch

E-Mail From Washington:
Sources: New Tapes 'Embarrassing' But Not Too Damaging
Gore Attends Fund-Raisers

News Briefs:
Report: Foster Was Deeply Depressed ...





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