WASHINGTON, DC (FOX19) - The focus on Capitol Hill is twofold in dealing with the IRS scandal. First, legislators are working to find out exactly what happened through IRS document requests, hearings, and interviews. Second, they are working to make sure a similar incident does not happen in the future.
"We need to make certain there's a permanent change not just a window dressing change," Representative Michael Turner (R)-Ohio told FOX19.
Turner, a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has put forward legislation that would make it a crime for an Internal Revenue Service employee to discriminate against an individual or group on the basis of their protected rights.
"The investigative arms of your government should not be turned on you based upon your political or religious beliefs and we're trying to prohibit that," he said.
According to Turner, right now IRS employees who discriminate against taxpayers may be subject to termination at the discretion of their supervisors. His bill would increase the penalty further to a $5,000 fine, 5 years in prison, or both.
"Under current law if the White House had contacted the IRS and told them to target people based on their political beliefs it would have been a felony," Turner explained. "We believe that if a supervisor at the IRS does the same it similarly should be a felony."
In the mean time, both the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Senate Committee on Finance have asked questions of the IRS to determine if its mistakes have been fully corrected.
"Now we also have then stonewalling on these questions," Senator Rob Portman (R)-Ohio said. "And they're not questions that can't be answered."
Portman told FOX19 during a visit to D.C. that the IRS had answered some of the 41 critical questions his committee requested, but not all.
"We just want the answers," he said. "We just want to get to the bottom of this."
The third prong to the effort of ensuring the IRS is back on track is the Inspector General for Tax Administration's list of nine recommendations for the IRS included in his May 14th report.
"The IG has made some great recommendations," representative Elijah Cummings (D)-Maryland said. "I think if we move on those recommendations, deal with those recommendations, we'll be fine."
You can view that list of IG recommendations here: http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2013reports/201310053fr.pdf
See the entire act introduced by Turner here: http://turner.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bill_text_-_the_taxpayer_nondiscrimination_and_protection_act_of_2013.pdf