December 1, 2022
Weeks before the midterm election, Republicans warned of an army of 87,000 IRS agents that would harass Americans

For weeks, Republicans have been telling voters across the country that President Joe Biden and Democrats will send an army of 87,000 IRS agents to audit everyday Americans, to pay for non-communist liberal programs like student loan forgiveness. Will dig deep in the pocket. Leading up to the midterm elections, GOP candidates are running campaign ads showing the claim and vowing to stop the IRS, once Republicans control Congress again. Where did this idea originate and is there any truth to it? Here’s what to know about whether or not the tax man comes.

Where did Republicans come up with this number?

The 87,000 figure comes from a Treasury report released in May 2021, which evaluated a proposal to provide the IRS with an additional $80 billion in funding. That amount has been approved thanks to climate, health care and tax legislation passed earlier this year.

The analysis showed that over 10 years, The IRS may add about 87,000 full-time employees, But nowhere does it say how many employees will be auditors compared to other types of IRS employees, such as customer service employees who can help taxpayers process their payments and receive refunds. This figure also represents the gross number of employees who could potentially be hired, not just the total, as the agency faces job losses over the next decade.

What are Republicans saying about these IRS agents?

it varies. Some are saying on social media that IRS agents will be armed. Others, like Washington GOP Senate candidate Tiffany Smiley, are capitalizing on the sheer size of the number. In one ad she says, “It’s crazy that Joe Biden and Patty Murray are filling a stadium or sending IRS agents to families earning less than $75,000 to pay for someone else’s law degree.” to be compelled.”

North Carolina Senate candidate Ted Budd complained in another ad that Biden “spend recklessly,” and “now wants 87,000 more IRS agents to cover their tabs.” Meanwhile, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is vowing to repeal 87,000 agents in the Republican’s first bill if he wins a majority.

Are the claims true?

No, the claims are out of date and misleading. While the IRS will get $80 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August, the IRS has yet to release the money plan. In August, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen sent a memo to IRS Commissioner Charles Rattig instructing the agency to deliver a plan within six months for how the money would be used over the next decade. Yellen had another directive to the agency regarding new personnel and that Americans should not see more audits.

She wrote in a letter, “No additional resources, including any new personnel or auditors, will be used to reduce the stake of small businesses or households below the $400,000 limit, which are audited relative to historical levels.” ” In a separate letter to the Senate, a Trump appointee, Ratig also said that the resources are “not at all about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans.”

The IRS proposal for the money is due in February.

So, what is the IRS spending if not on the 87,000 agents?

Of the $80 billion in funding—about $46 billion was allocated to go toward enhanced enforcement as the IRS seeks to close the so-called “tax gap,” which is currently estimated at $600 billion annually and $7.5 billion over the next ten years. Trillion. Apart from enforcement, the money is also being used to improve the services and technology of the taxpayers.

“Resources to modernize the IRS will be used to improve taxpayer services — from answering the phone to improving IT systems — and cracking down on high income and corporate tax evaders who cost the American people every The year is hundreds of billions of dollars.” a Treasury official said.

The IRS has been facing growing challenges for decades, which were intensified by the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the technology used by the agency dates back to the 1960s. In both reports and testimony before Congress, Taxpayer Advocate Erin Collins describes IRS employees manually entering information line by line from paper returns. It has called the paper returns “kryptonite” in several warnings to Congress. Its midyear report in June said the agency had a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns at the end of May. However this number has come down. The IRS recently said it had 6.2 million unprocessed personal returns as of September 23, including 4.6 million paper returns to be reviewed and processed.

The IRS is also grappling with its customer service burden. Its workforce remains at the same level as in the 1970s, despite a growing population and additional responsibilities. In the last tax filing season, the agency was only able to take 10% of the calls — an issue that frustrated both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

What will people hired by the IRS do?

Filling up most of the vacant positions. The IRS is on the verge of losing more than 50,000 employees who are due to retire in the next five years.

“Most new hires will replace the standard level of employee departures over the next few years,” a Treasury official said, adding that new employees will be hired to improve taxpayer services and experienced auditors who are both corporate and high-level. Eliminate tax evaders without increasing audit rates relative to historical norms for people earning less than $400,000 for the year.”

On the enforcement side, the IRS has lost 40% of the complex revenue agents needed to go after high-end tax evaders over the past decade. The agency is dealing with the same number of auditors dealing with complex tasks as it was in World War II.

Will IRS agents be armed?

A fraction of employees in the entire IRS are armed. The Criminal Investigation Unit is a small division within an agency with fewer than 2,000 employees – less than 3% of the total workforce. And within that unit, only special agents are armed, so the less than 2,000 personnel working there. The unit deals with cases like narcotics and money laundering. Recently, it has been part of task Force Tracking the wealth of Russian oligarchs.

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