Thomas Gallatin / August 11, 2022

About Those 87,000 New IRS ‘Agents’

Biden aims to exponentially increase IRS tax enforcement, irrespective of the specific number of new agents.

With the erroneously titled Inflation Reduction Act on the edge of being passed in the Democrat-controlled House, thanks to Senator Joe Manchin’s about-face on Joe Biden’s spending boondoggle just over a week ago, Americans can expect to see a dramatic increase in the size of the Internal Revenue Service. And Democrat claims to the contrary notwithstanding, middle-class taxpayers will soon feel the heat of tens of thousands of more IRS employees seeking to pounce on any tax-filing blunder.

With $80 billion in new budget allocation over the next decade, all of which ultimately comes from taxpayers, combined with the addition of some 87,000 new IRS employees, the notion that this legislation will have no impact on the average taxpayer, as the Biden administration insists, simply doesn’t pass the sniff test. According to a U.S. Treasury official, “The resources to modernize the IRS will be used to improve taxpayer services — from answering the phones to improving IT systems — and to crack down on high-income and corporate tax evaders who cost the American people hundreds of billions of dollars each year.”

But a look at the line-item breakdown of the new funding tells a different story.

Over half of the $80 billion ($45.6 billion) allocated to the IRS is earmarked for tax enforcement. This includes enhanced audits, legal support, criminal investigations, collections, digital asset monitoring, and more. And, of course, the selling point of enhancing the IRS’s enforcement division is hundreds of billions in more revenue for the government.

Deflection from this reality has become the Leftmedia’s mission. The “87,000 more IRS agents” description has been challenged as false since, strictly speaking, the IRS plans to hire 87,000 more employees who will not necessarily serve as agents. However, everyone working for the IRS is ultimately helping an agency whose primary job is collecting taxes, so everyone from the auditor to the janitor is involved in doing just that, whether directly or indirectly.

Seemingly underscoring that this $80 billion “investment” is primarily aimed at increasing the agency’s tax enforcement division, the IRS recently posted a job opening for a Criminal Investigation Special Agent, which included this feel-good nugget in the job description: “Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.” And the agency has been buying up an awful lot of ammunition. This is not an FBI agent we’re talking about, but ostensibly an IRS agent, a tax man. It would seem if IRS personnel did indeed encounter a criminal situation that required the use of deadly force, they could call up the local authorities or the FBI.

Furthermore, while Democrats and the Biden administration are running around claiming the Inflation Reduction Act does not raise taxes on the middle class, once again they are playing semantics. Raising taxes on corporations, as the legislation does, directly impacts the cost of goods and service those corporations provide, and it is Americans who end up footing the bill by paying higher prices. It also affects wages for company employees and dividends for corporate investors, many of whom are middle-class retirees.

As for enforcement, the denial that middle-class workers will be targets of the IRS may be true insofar as it comes to those working for a company where they receive a W-2. However, since the COVID pandemic, many Americans have gone out on their own and started their own work or small business. These self-employed workers will become the primary targets of the nearly doubled IRS and can expect to see tax audits significantly increase in number.

If Congress were really concerned about assisting Americans, then it would work to simplify the tax code. The problem is not that a massive number of taxpayers are avoiding taxes but that they often have a difficult time interpreting the overly complex tax code and knowing exactly what they owe. In other words, honest mistakes, not intentional criminality, most often explain why people may fail to properly file their taxes.

Rather than further weaponize the enforcement arm of the IRS, Congress should be working to disentangle tax law and direct the IRS to focus more on tax-filing assistance to help taxpayers more easily navigate the ever-evolving tax code.

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