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U.S. Senate tax chief urges tweaks to IRS tax administration

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a Finance Committee
U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a Finance Committee

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate's top tax writer on Wednesday floated several proposals to make filing taxes simpler, help people protect their identities and strengthen federal tax enforcement.

Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a "discussion draft," for instance, that anyone who makes an error of $25 or less on their taxes should not need to completely refile their returns.

He said the U.S. Internal Revenue Service should create a tax preparation and filing website for individuals similar to one that is already available to businesses.

To combat identity theft for tax refund fraud, he said, the government needs to limit its use of individuals' full Social Security numbers on tax forms and in databases.

And to crack down on Americans who do not pay all the taxes they owe, Baucus called for more financial information disclosure and curbing of unscrupulous tax preparers.

"Our tax code today is inefficient, and incomprehensible to the overwhelming majority of Americans," he said in a statement.

Many of the proposals Baucus offered have been put forward before but never put into practice. Baucus said they should be part of a tax reform package that he is pushing for but which many analysts are skeptical will become law before 2015.

On Tuesday, Baucus released a discussion draft for international tax reform proposals.

Comprehensive reform may be too difficult for this fractious Congress, but the fairly mundane tax administration changes Baucus is urging should win bipartisan support, said Robert Kerr, senior director of government relations for the National Association of Enrolled Agents, a tax-preparers trade group.

"It's a marginal approach to some common sense issues and troubles that are widely seen and acknowledged," Kerr said.

In March, Baucus released a similar set of broad tax administration reforms.

(Reporting by Patrick Temple-West; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Beech)

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