(CNSNews.com) - House Republicans are aiming at the Internal Revenue Service this week, taking up four bills to ensure integrity in hiring and better customer service.
"We have recently learned...that IRS employees that have been fired for misconduct have been rehired" in the last several years, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) told a news conference on Tuesday.
"Now some of this may involve falsifying documents -- they failed to pay their own taxes. They may have been fired for accessing sensitive taxpayer information without permission. In fact, one employee had missed up to eight weeks of work without permission, had actually stamped on their personnel file, 'Do not rehire' -- and the IRS chose to rehire them."
Noem said Congress gave the IRS an opportunity to address the issue, and "they have stated that their policies are fine and are currently working for them."
She said that's why she's introducing the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act (H.R.3724). "It will prevent the IRS from rehiring employees that were fired for misconduct."
Noem called it a "commonsense" bill that passed unanimously through the House Ways and Means Committee, and "I expect it to have a lot of support on the floor."
The House is taking up another bill that would require user fees collected by the IRS to be spent on customer service, as Congress intended the money to be spent.
A third bill would prohibit the IRS from hiring new employees until the Treasury secretary certifies to Congress that none of them owe back taxes.
And a fourth bill would ban IRS merit bonuses awarded to employees until the Treasury secretary submits a comprehensive customer service strategy to Congress.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the four bills are part of a Republican effort to force the IRS to accept more accountability and transparency.
"We know that the IRS cannot be trusted to police itself, Ryan said. "Each time we come up with more problems, the IRS comes up witih more excuses.
"Just recently, in the height of tax season, we learned that the agency still has not done enough to protect taxpayers from hackers. Asked about this, the IRS commissioner said, and I quote -- 'It's a complicated world,' close quote.
"There is nothing complicated about this!" Ryan said. "The IRS is not doing its job."
Ryan said ultimately, Congress needs to reform the entire tax code, not just the agency itself:
"Right now we have a tax code that no one can understand being enforced by an agency that no one trusts."
He said a House Ways and Means Committee task force is now gathering ideas on a tax reform plan that Republicans can offer to the American people, "run on it," and "earn a mandate from the country this year to put tax reform in place in 2017."
Ryan said the Obama administration is "ideaologically out to lunch on this issue."
"People realize that our international system is killing American competitiveness. It's pushing businesses overseas, it's causing foreign companies to buy U.S. companies. We need a new president that is not such an ideologue, so that we can actually get comprehenisve, pro-growth tax reform."