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  • The Republican Study Committee has made a proposal that if approved, would make the U.S. population hugely happy.

    The Republican Study Committee has made a proposal that if approved, would make the U.S. population hugely happy. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 May 2016

The largest conservative group in the U.S. Congress has endorsed the complete elimination of the country's most hated institution.

It's a U.S. taxpayer's dream: make the Internal Revenue Service go away, and the largest conservative group in Congress is endorsing just that.

The Republican Study Committee, which counts over two-thirds of House of Representatives Republicans as its members, called recently for "the complete elimination of the IRS."

The committee's support for this idea, once confined to the fringes of conservative ideology, suggests it is more widely accepted on Capitol Hill than ever. But many in Washington, including some Republicans, have trouble taking it seriously.

Calls to abolish the IRS have not been well thought through, Republican Representative Charles Boustany said in an interview.

“Before we start making blanket statements about abolishing the IRS, I think it’s important to focus on what the tax code for the 21st century should look like," said Boustany, who does not belong to the 172-member study committee.

In an election year of dramatic rhetoric that is often short on details, the committee's proposal, released April 22 and echoing language from a March budget plan, is brief.

As part of a wider appeal for federal tax reform, the committee says simply: "This proposal takes the bold step of calling for the complete elimination of the IRS. Tax collection and enforcement activities would be moved to a new, smaller and more accountable department at the Treasury."

No further specifics were offered for how to replace an agency that is already part of the Treasury, collected UA$3.3 trillion in revenue in 2015 and processed 240 million tax returns.

Texas Representative Bill Flores, chairman of the study committee, was not available for comment. His spokeswoman Caitlin Carroll said the IRS closure proposal should be seen as part of a larger push for comprehensive tax reform.

Matthew Gardner, head of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a tax research group, said most tax reform plans would still need a tax collector with enforcement powers.

Still, in the U.S., antipathy for the IRS is widespread and long standing. One of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's biggest applause lines on the campaign trail is, "Imagine abolishing the IRS!"

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