Ranking Member Neal Opening Statement at IRS Redesign, Trade and Social Security Markup
(Remarks as prepared)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this markup on important, bipartisan legislation on various topics within the jurisdiction of our committee. You and your staff have worked very collaboratively with us in putting together these bills and we appreciate your bipartisanship. This markup is a good example that we can work together on a bipartisan basis to develop good policy. In fact, I’m a firm believer that we do some of our best work when we come together.
This morning we will start with a number of bills, which would, among other things, strengthen and modernize the IRS, improve taxpayer services and protect Americans from identity theft. These bills are sponsored by a number of members from our committee. But I’d particularly like to applaud the leadership of our Oversight Chair and Ranking Member, Lynn Jenkins and John Lewis, who are the architects of this IRS redesign package.
There are many important reforms in all nine of the IRS redesign bills we’re acting on today but I’m particularly pleased with the many provisions that would help low and moderate-income taxpayers. For example, an important reform we’ll be voting on today is codify the existing Free File program, under which the IRS partners with the tax preparation community to offer free online tax filing to people whose incomes fall in the bottom 70 percent. I’ve been a long time champion of the Free File program along with my colleague, Ron Kind and others, and I’m pleased to see it in today’s package.
Another important reform is codifying the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, under which the IRS partners with nonprofit and community groups to offer income tax assistance to people with low incomes, limited English skills, or other barriers to tax compliance.
I look forward to working with my colleagues as the Taxpayer First Act moves to the floor. And I encourage my colleagues to support all of these important IRS redesign bills.
We’ll then move on to the Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act, which is common sense legislation sponsored by Representatives Bill Pascrell and Jeff Denham. This bill would strengthen the system used by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to protect the personally identifiable information of individuals who are moving internationally.
I’d like to applaud the leadership of Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Pascrell on this issue and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
We’ll conclude today with two bipartisan bills relating to identity theft and the misuse of Social Security numbers.
The Social Security Child Protection Act, introduced jointly by Representatives Lloyd Doggett and Kenny Marchant, would protect children in cases where their Social Security card is stolen from the mail. Stolen SSNs can be used to commit identity fraud - and such fraud can become quite extensive before the child's family even becomes aware of the problem. Under the bill, SSA would issue a child a new SSN if their card is stolen from the mail.
The other bill before this committee, the Protecting Children from Identity Theft Act, is intended to address a growing form of identity fraud – that involving so-called "synthetic" identity theft. The legislation would allow financial services companies, if they have consent from their customer, to verify the customer's name and SSN with SSA, in order to help prevent identity theft.
I am pleased that we were able to work on a bipartisan basis to strengthen the bill in two key ways. First, we included provisions to ensure that the verification system would be secure and not subject to misuse. And second, we included provisions to make sure the users of the verification system would pay the full cost of it, and not detract from SSA's ability to fulfill its primary mission of running the Social Security program.
I urge my colleagues to also support both of these important Social Security related bills.
I look forward to a productive day. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.