Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Chair Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced two bipartisan bills on July 12 intended to protect taxpayers: the Stolen Identity Refund Fraud Prevention Bill (Sen 3157) and the Taxpayer Protection Bill of 2016 (Sen 3156). Sen 3157 would implement guidelines for the IRS in handling stolen identity refund fraud cases and would increase the criminal penalty for misappropriating taxpayer identity in connection with tax fraud. The bill also requires a biannual report from the IRS on the current status of taxpayer stolen identity refund fraud, including details as to detection, prevention and enforcement activities undertaken by the IRS.

Sen 3156 would extend the time limit on contesting an IRS levy from nine months to two years. Additionally, the bill would create the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Matching Grant Program. Among other provisions, the bill would also require the IRS to submit a report to Congress on its Future State efforts to expand online taxpayer services.

Meanwhile, SFC ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, introduced legislation on July 13 for first-time homebuyers. Under the proposal, first time homebuyers would receive up to a $10,000 refundable tax credit. The credit would equal 2.5 percent of the home purchase with the maximum credit reached at homes selling for $400,000. The credit would phase out for individuals with incomes above $80,000, and married couples above $160,000. Taxpayers claiming the credit who sell their new home within five years will have to pay back a portion of the credit unless they can show special circumstances. Wyden is also expected to introduce legislation in September to create a new tax credit to encourage housing developers to build more affordable rental properties.

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