Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today applauded the House of Representatives for passing bipartisan IRS reform legislation – the Taxpayer First Act – that includes a number of Portman legislative priorities that were included as part of the Protecting Taxpayers Act that he introduced with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) last year. The measure passed the House by voice vote earlier this afternoon. Portman issued the following statement:

“The House-passed bill includes many of the provisions from my Protecting Taxpayers Act, the IRS reform bill I introduced with Senator Cardin last year,” Senator Portman said. “In particular, this bill includes provisions that establish an Independent Office of Appeals and strengthen taxpayers’ right to an appeal, an important taxpayer right first established in the 1998 IRS reform legislation that I authored in the House. The bill also preserves the IRS Oversight Board, giving the IRS and Congress a chance to revitalize the Board so that it may achieve its original purpose, acting as a board of directors for the agency.”

“This bill represents the most significant reform to the IRS in two decades and is an important first step toward restoring full faith in one of our government’s most important agencies.” Portman continued. “There is still plenty of work that we can do to continue to modernize and strengthen the agency so that it better serves American taxpayers, and I look forward to Senate Finance consideration of additional IRS reform initiatives now that a new Commissioner is fully in place. I would urge my Senate colleagues to join me in passing this bipartisan, bicameral legislation so that it can be sent to the president’s desk for his signature.”

Specifically, the House-passed bill includes more than a dozen of Senator Portman’s IRS reform priorities that were included in his Protecting Taxpayers Act, including provisions that:

• Preserve the IRS Oversight Board so that Congress can work to reconstitute the Board and have it work in the way it was originally designed to help set the long term strategic direction of the agency;

• Establish an Independent Office of Appeals and strengthen taxpayers’ right to an appeal, including full notice and protest procedures and open access to case files;

• Direct the IRS to develop a comprehensive training strategy for their employees to foster a stronger culture at the agency and reinforce taxpayer rights;

• Require the IRS to issue uniform guidance for the use of electronic signatures (which was also included in Portman’s Electronic Signatures Standards Act);

• Reauthorize streamlined critical pay authority for IRS IT employees to make it easier to hire the best technical staffers needed to overhaul the IRS IT infrastructure;

• Protect low-income taxpayers by permanently authorizing, and authorizing additional funding for, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program;

• Codify low-income taxpayer exceptions from fee waivers and lump sum payments associated with IRS payment plans;

• Direct the IRS to issue procedures for when direct deposits of tax refunds are sent to the wrong account; and

• Modify the IRS’s legal authority to issue a designated summons, or a summons that freezes the statute of limitations for taxpayers, to ensure this enforcement tool is only used for uncooperative taxpayers.
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Portman, Bennet reintroduce bill to reduce carbon emissions

U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today reintroduced a bill to make it easier for power plants and industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture, utilization, and storage equipment.

“This bill is a win-win for jobs and the environment, and I’m proud to continue my work on this issue with Senator Bennet,” said Portman. “Carbon capture is a common-sense solution that will allow states like Ohio to continue to utilize our natural resources while protecting our environment at the same time. This bipartisan measure is supported by business groups, energy groups, and environmental groups alike, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.”

“Reducing carbon pollution while creating good-paying jobs is something that Democrats, Republicans, labor unions, industry, and environmentalists can all get behind,” said Bennet. “Our legislation would help reduce carbon pollution by making it more cost effective for power plants and industrial facilities to invest in carbon capture equipment. This is a significant step to ensure we are boosting Colorado's clean energy economy and keeping our air clean as the threat of climate change continues to grow.”

The Carbon Capture Improvement Act would allow businesses to use private activity bonds (PABs) issued by local or state governments to finance a carbon capture project. These bonds are beneficial to consumers and businesses because they are tax-exempt and can be paid back over a longer period of time. If more than 65 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from a given facility are captured and injected underground, then 100 percent of the eligible equipment can be financed with PABs. If less than 65 percent is captured and sequestered, then tax-exempt financing is permitted on a pro-rated basis. PABs have been used for decades to finance pollution control equipment at U.S. power and industrial facilities; capturing carbon dioxide is a logical next step.

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Portman praises Senate confirmation of Holte as judge on Court of Federal Claims

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) released the following statement on the confirmation of Akron-native Ryan T. Holte as judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims:

“Ryan Holte has the experience and temperament necessary to make an outstanding judge. Throughout the nomination process I’ve been impressed with Ryan’s demeanor, credentials and earnest desire to serve his country. I’m confident that Ryan will make a terrific judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.”

Holte currently serves as the David L. Brennan associate professor of law and director of the Center for Intellectual Property Law and Technology at the University of Akron School of Law.

Congress created the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 1982 pursuant to Article I of the U.S. Constitution. It is a direct successor to the U.S. Court of Claims, established in 1855. The court consists of 16 judges who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for 15-year terms. The court has jurisdiction to hear cases involving citizens’ monetary claims against the United States federal government. It also may hear a variety of specialized claims against the government, including contract claims, bid protests, military and civilian pay claims, vaccine injury cases, and patent and copyright claims.