National Press Club

IRS commissioner urges Congress to act swiftly to avoid 'Taxmageddon'

April 6, 2012 | By Justin Duckham | Justin@talkradionews.com

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman says Congress must act quickly to address expiring tax cuts. Shulman spoke at a National Press Club luncheon April 5.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman says Congress must act quickly to address expiring tax cuts. Shulman spoke at a National Press Club luncheon April 5.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman urged lawmakers to address a series of tax cuts that have either expired or are expiring in order to sidestep what some D.C. insiders call “Taxmageddon.”

“Unfortunately, Congress has gotten into the habit of passing tax legislation very late,” Shulman said during a luncheon Thursday at the National Press Club. “If Congress can’t act by the end of the year … you could have a real disaster in the filing season.”

Left unresolved, Americans could end up paying the federal government nearly $500 billion more in 2013. Items set to expire next year include the Bush era tax cuts as well as payroll relief passed during the Obama administration

Beyond a sharp tax hike, Shulman warned that Congressional inaction could also wreak havoc on Internal Revenue Service operations, describing a scenario in which the public, acting in “total confusion,” inadvertently files under two different tax codes.

“It’s an issue we’re tracking very closely and are quite concerned about,” Shulman added. “We’re hopeful that these pieces of legislation will pass sooner rather than later.”

The commissioner also addressed ongoing projects on the agency’s agenda, including a far-reaching plan to ensure that professional tax preparers are regulated.

“When I arrived at the IRS, there were no basic competency requirements for tax return preparers. For most states, you need a license to cut somebody’s hair,” Shulman said. “I’m the IRS commissioner, so I’m biased that taxes are more important than how your hair looks, but I know some people view that differently.”

With the April 15th filing deadline fast approaching, Press Club President Theresa Werner had some personal tax-day questions for the commissioner: Has he ever been audited and does he file his own taxes?

“When you become IRS commissioner, every tax lawyer in the government takes a look at your returns, so my returns have been thoroughly vetted,” Shulman explained.

As for the second question, Shulman acknowledged that he relies on a little outside help.

“I actually have a preparer prepare my tax returns,” Shulman said.