Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2023 Year-End Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

August 10, 2022

86,852 New IRS Employees

The problem is what the problem always is: The big money is in the big middle class.

You’ve probably heard Republicans say the Inflation Reduction Act — the massive spending bill just passed by Senate Democrats — includes provisions to hire 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents. The number seems too big too believe. The IRS has just 93,654 employees, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Why would Congress, in one bill, increase the IRS workforce by something like 92%? It doesn’t seem possible. It certainly doesn’t seem wise.

It’s not wise, but it is possible. And that is what 50 Senate Democrats, along with tie-breaking Vice President Kamala Harris, did when they passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which gives roughly $80 billion to the IRS between now and 2031. (The name, “Inflation Reduction Act,” was a ruse to convince gullible voters that Democrats are actually doing something about inflation; the bill itself is made up of expensive climate measures, plus prescription drug provisions, tax increases and the initiative to increase IRS enforcement.)

The Inflation Reduction Act is the slimmed-down version of the even more massive Build Back Better bill, which failed earlier this year due to the opposition of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. We know a lot about the IRS provisions of the new bill because the same provisions were in Build Back Better, which the administration extensively promoted. That’s where the 87,000 figure came from. In May 2021, the Treasury Department produced a 22-page analysis of Build Back Better, and in supporting tables, the document said the bill would add 86,852 FTEs, or full-time equivalent employees, to the IRS between now and the year 2031. Do a little rounding, and there’s the 87,000.

It’s fair to say that Democrats are always searching for ways to wring more cash out of the American taxpayer. The obvious way to do that is to raise taxes. But the largest number of potential tax collections is in the vast middle of the U.S. income scale. To raise taxes on the middle class is politically unpopular. So Democrats pledge to raise taxes on the “rich” and “rich corporations.” The Inflation Reduction Act focuses on corporations, creating a minimum tax for companies with more than $1 billion in profits. As for individuals, the portion of the bill dealing with the IRS says, “Nothing in this section is intended to increase taxes on any taxpayer or small business with a taxable income below $400,000. Further, nothing in this section is intended to increase taxes on any taxpayer not in the top 1%.” Read it closely, and it doesn’t really mean anything.

The other way Democrats have sought to raise more taxpayer dollars is by beefing up the IRS. The idea is that Americans are evading all sorts of taxes, creating a “tax gap” — according to the Treasury Department, “the difference between taxes owed to the government and actually paid.” The Biden administration says tax cheats are primarily “high-income.” “In order for the IRS to appropriately focus enforcement scrutiny on high-income taxpayers and the businesses they own — which research has shown is the primary source of the tax gap — its budget must be replenished,” the Treasury Department says.

The problem is what the problem always is: The big money is in the big middle class. Americans who make more than $400,000 — that includes people right at that number up to super-billionaires — are only about 1.8% of all taxpayers, even though they account for about 25% of the nation’s income. The other 98.2%, making up about 75% of the nation’s income, is a lot bigger. And indeed, that’s where much of current IRS enforcement is focused. The same will likely be true of the new, muscled-up IRS.

“The main targets will by necessity be the middle- and upper-middle class because that’s where the money is,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote recently. “The Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, says that from 78% to 90% of the money raised from under-reported income would likely come from those making less than $200,000 a year. Only 4% to 9% would come from those making more than $500,000.”

In any event, there will be a lot of increased enforcement; about $45 billion of the $80 billion for the IRS will go to investigating taxpayers. That means that not every one of the IRS’s 86,852 new employees will be auditors and examiners, but a lot of that manpower will in fact go to audits and increased scrutiny of taxpayers. Many of the targeted taxpayers will have to hire accountants to represent them in dealings with the IRS.

Why oppose such a move? After all, Democrats are assuring the public that the money will go to pursue “wealthy tax cheats,” in the words of Sen. Ron Wyden. “Wealthy tax cheats are ripping off the American people to the tune of billions and billions of dollars per year,” Wyden said last year, in support of Build Back Better’s IRS provisions. Who is not in favor of going after wealthy tax cheats? Well, for one thing, they’re not all going to be wealthy, and they’re not all going to be cheating. The tax system is complex. People make mistakes that are not cheating.

Also — assume the IRS does, in fact, need more money for enforcement. How much is too much? It can be difficult for an organization to handle a huge windfall; it’s just too much to deal with efficiently. And that is what, it appears, Democrats have done to the IRS. Last year, when the Build Back Better provisions were being debated, The New York Times interviewed John Koskinen, who headed the IRS under Presidents Obama and Trump. “Koskinen … said he thought the $80 billion being proposed by the Biden administration might be too much,” the paper reported. “The suggestion was surprising coming from someone who lamented loudly that the agency was being starved when he was in charge. ‘I’m not sure you’d be able to efficiently use that much money,’ Mr. Koskinen said in an interview. ‘That’s a lot of money.’ Mr. Koskinen said he thought an extra $25 billion over a decade would help bring the IRS budget back to where it was around 2010 …”

The $80 billion to the IRS is too much, too fast, with too little purpose. All Americans should be concerned about it.

This content originally appeared on the Washington Examiner at washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/86-852-new-irs-employees.

(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner. For a deeper dive into many of the topics Byron covers, listen to his podcast, The Byron York Show, available on the Ricochet Audio Network at ricochet.com/series/byron-york-show and everywhere else podcasts are found.)

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.