[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 2 (Thursday, January 9, 1997)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E86-E87]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                        IRS BURDEN OF PROOF BILL


                      HON. JAMES A. TRAFICANT, JR.

                                of ohio

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, January 9, 1997

  Mr. TRAFICANT. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I introduced legislation to 
change the burden of proof in a civil tax case. This bill is similar to 
legislation I have introduced in past Congresses to right a serious 
injustice against taxpayers: In civil tax court, taxpayers are 
considered guilty until proven innocent. That's un-American and flat 
out wrong.
  Last year, Congress finally passed, and President Clinton signed into 
law, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights II. That was an important step toward 
protecting American taxpayers against Internal Revenue Service abuses. 
However, it didn't go far enough. Far too many Americans still fear the 
IRS--and with good reason.
  The IRS is the only agency of the Federal Government that affects 
every American. We all hear complaints from constituents about 
overregulation by OSHA, the EPA, or the Department of Justice. These 
regulations affect only small businessmen or manufacturers or farmers. 
However, the IRS hits each and everyone of us. Anyone who's received a 
notice in the mail from the IRS knows how it can cause the blood 
pressure to rise.
  Americans should not fear their Government. Sadly, too many Americans 
don't trust the IRS. This has clouded their view of the entire 
Government. Congress could go a long way toward reinstating the 
American people's faith in the Federal Government by reigning in powers 
of the IRS. Mending this broken relationship should be Congress' No. 1 
priority. Shifting the burden of proof will do that.
  My bill specifies that in the administrative process leading up to a 
court case, the burden of proof is on the taxpayer, but once the case 
goes to tax court, the burden of proof is squarely on the IRS.
  During the administrative process or any audit, the burden of proof 
should be on the IRS. The taxpayer should provide all pertinent data to 
support their claims and deductions including receipts, W-2 forms, and 
letters. Should the taxpayer and the IRS not come to an agreement, the 
process moves to the tax court. There the burden of proof should be on 
the IRS. A taxpayer should be innocent until proven guilty in tax 
court, not the other way around.
  Mr. Speaker, my bill has three more sections to protect Americans 
from IRS abuses. First, a section requiring judicial consent and a 15-
day notice before the IRS can seize property. It also includes a 
provision to call for an independent report detailing ways to offset 
potential revenue losses from a shift of the burden of proof. Finally, 
damages awarded by a judge for an unauthorized collection by the IRS 
are excluded from gross income.
  Mr. Speaker, an accused mass murderer has more rights than a taxpayer 
fingered by

[[Page E87]]

the IRS. Jeffrey Dahmer and the ``Son of Sam'' were considered innocent 
until they were proven guilty. Regular taxpaying Americans, however, 
are not afforded this protection.
  Mr. Speaker, during the last Congress, I highlighted the need for 
this legislation on the House floor by reading letters and cases I have 
received from people around the country. You may remember the case of 
David and Millie Evans from Longmont, CO. The IRS refused to accept 
their canceled check as evidence of payment even though the check bore 
the IRS stamp of endorsement. Or how about Alex Council, who took his 
own life so his wife could collect his life insurance to pay off their 
IRS bill? Months later, a judge found him innocent of any wrongdoing. I 
have heard hundreds of stories of IRS abuses like these on radio and 
television talk shows. Thousands of Americans have written to me 
personally with their horror stories.
  Opponents argue that my bill will weaken IRS's ability to prosecute 
legitimate tax cheats. This bill will not affect IRS's ability to 
enforce tax law, it only forces them to prove allegations of fraud. My 
bill will ensure that IRS agents act in accordance with the Standards 
of Conduct required of all Department of Treasury employees. Most 
importantly, it will force the IRS to act in accordance with the 
Constitution of the United States of America where all citizens are 
considered innocent until proven guilty.
  Mr. Speaker, I am hopeful that this is the year that Congress passes 
this bill. It is an important piece of legislation.