March 04,2009

Grassley Fights to Give Tax Debt Collection Program a Chance to Work, Faces Partisan, Union-driven Resistance to Logic

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is urging the Senate and the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service to save a new program to collect taxes that are owed and not in dispute. Grassley said the program – known as the private debt collection program – should have a chance to work, especially since the IRS is neither willing nor equipped to collect such tax debt. However, despite his efforts, the Senate’s Democratic leadership is strong-arming debate of an omnibus spending bill and allowing zero amendments to move forward.

“I filed an amendment to save this program, but the Senate Democratic leadership isn’t going to allow it to pass. Not a single amendment has,” Grassley said. “Even though this program has bipartisan support, I couldn’t even get sign-off on a simple colloquy with key Democrats – a statement among senators on the floor – that would have clarified that the IRS could keep the program going even with the 2009 prohibition on using appropriated funds. So the employees of the contractor in Waterloo and taxpayers everywhere don’t have a chance with the way this bill is being processed by the majority.”

Grassley has outlined the reasons for giving the program a chance in a variety of settings. He’s pointed out the IRS’ own documentation of workers’ hours spent on union activities rather than IRS tasks such as tax collection and the IRS’ unwillingness to take on the debt targeted via this program. His correspondence over union activities is attached.

Grassley today wrote to the Treasury Department and IRS, seeking information to counteract claims about the program from the Treasury/IRS employees’ union. Earlier this week, Grassley filed an amendment to the 2009 omnibus appropriations bill before the full Senate. His amendment would strike a provision that essentially kills the private debt collection program. He and Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Committee on Finance, reminded appropriators that tax collection is the Finance Committee’s, not the Appropriation Committee’s, jurisdiction. That letter is attached.

Please view the printer-friendly version of this release to see: (1) the text of Grassley’s letter  today to the Treasury Department and IRS; (2) the text of his floor speech describing the amendment; and (3) the text of a letter from Grassley and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Tom Harkin in support of the program.

Grassley is ranking member and former chairman of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over taxes.