(The Center Square)
President Joe Biden’s call for funding for 87,000 IRS agents to audit Americans has raised questions about whether the new rash of audits targets poor Americans or is politically motivated.
The Inflation Reduction Act included $80 billion to boost IRS efforts, which Biden says will more than pay for itself in new audits.
Daniel Werfel, Biden’s nominee to lead the Internal Revenue Service, raised concerns about the policy in his recent confirmation hearing but assured lawmakers that the audit would target wealthier Americans.
“…audit and compliance priorities are focused on increasing the IRS’s capabilities and ensuring that America’s highest earners comply with applicable tax laws,” Werfel said.
Critics have argued that there aren’t enough wealthy Americans to audit to justify paying tens of billions of dollars to auditors. He argues that the IRS’s behavior in recent years shows that the IRS is going after poor and conservative Americans.
“Congress’ official tax scorekeeper, Congress’ official tax scorekeeper, said 78% to 90% of the money could come from under-reported income from people earning less than $200,000 a year, with nearly half audited earning $75,000 or less each year,” House Ways and Means Republicans said. said in a statement.
The Informing America Foundation has released a new report detailing the IRS’s recent missteps.
“The IRS is targeting low-income Americans and conservative nonprofits,” the report said. “President Biden massively expanded the IRS, which left conservative nonprofits, blacklisted Americans and more unscrutinized.”
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The IRS reached a $3.5 million settlement with hundreds of Tea Party groups in 2018 after news broke that the Obama administration’s IRS had targeted those groups.
Related: IRS Leaked Tax Filings of Thousands of Americans; Congress demands an answer
In 2021, the IRS had to reverse its own ruling after denying a Christian group nonprofit status. The agent who made the ruling said the group didn’t qualify because “biblical teachings are characteristically complicit [Republican] Party and Candidates.”
Christians Engaged, the group in question, was able to overturn the ruling, but critics say a case like this shows the mindset of at least some IRS employees.
“The recent resolution on Christians Engaged’s tax-exempt status further exposed rampant corruption and liberal bias at the IRS,” U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said at the time. “This discriminatory action against a Christian nonprofit is a blatant attack on religious freedom by an oppressive federal government. Moreover, this decision comes at a time when members of both parties are trying to increase the IRS’s ability to harass individual Americans, businesses and organizations.
Just this year, the IRS announced a program to crack down on tip reporting by waiters and waitresses.
“Strange. I was reliably told that an expanded IRS would only target the rich…” Hunter Estes, communications director for Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the IRS is mired in other problems. As The Center Square previously reported, the agency faces major backlogs, questions over millions of destroyed records and more.
The House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the Biden administration earlier this month raising questions about how thousands of IRS records were leaked to ProPublica. The leak may have had political motives, as it was used to prove, as ProPublica put it, that “the very wealthy pay lower rates than the merely wealthy.”
RELATED: Lawmakers Grill Biden’s IRS Chief Nominates New Army of Agents, Backlogs, More
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told the Senate Finance Committee in June 2021 that she would look into the leak, but so far Congress has received few answers.
America First Legal, a conservative group led by former Trump administration officials, expressed concern about the Treasury Department’s recent equity commitments. Those policies could be used to make decisions about who should be audited based on race, he says.
“The idea that race should play any role in the operations of the IRS is absurd, offensive to the American ideal and illegal,” said Jean Hamilton, America’s first legal vice president and general counsel. “But the Biden administration is so blinded by its continuing obsession with race that it is willing to make IRS enforcement decisions based on the race of American citizens. We will fight their efforts to destroy equality under the law and expose their efforts to inject toxic ‘equity’-based policies throughout the federal government.”
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.