Oversize an incompetent and irresponsible tax authorities
The Democrats’ reconciliation bill rushed through congressional calls for $80 billion in new IRS funding so the agency can hire up to 87,000 new agents and auditors. This amount is enough to fill every seat in Washington’s Nationals Park twice.
Democrats are doubling the size of the IRS, with most of the new funds going to its enforcement arm. The bill provides 14 times more funding for “enforcement” – as in fishing expedition audits – than for “taxpayer services” such as answering the phone.
It is dangerous to give an irresponsible and incompetent agency so much power over families and small businesses.
Audits of the agency by the IRS’ official watchdog — the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration — have shown a consistent lack of respect for due process and taxpayer rights. Too often, the average household or small business owner pays the price for the IRS’ culture of incompetence or outright negligence.
The IRS’ Criminal Investigations Division is armed to the teeth with more than 4,600 firearms and 5 million cartridges, a number that will only swell with the proposed hiring of more than 87,000 new employees. TIGTA reports show that the IRS is not handling its firearms program particularly well.
Of the 19 times a gun was discharged by an IRS agent between 2009 and 2011, the most recent data available, 11 of those cases were classified as accidental. IRS agents fired their weapons improperly in more than half of shooting incidents.
There were also unreported incidents. The Inspector General wrote: “In three of four accidental releases that were not reported, the accidental releases may have resulted in property damage or injury.” But details of those incidents have been redacted.
The IRS raids have been described as “military-style.” The victims said they were in a “deep depression that lasted a year”. Some of the raids were described as “Gestapo-style” when Congress investigated the charges, as witnesses testified behind sheets with their voices disguised as if reporting on the Mafia.
The IRS also has remarkably poor evidence storage practices. During on-site inspections, a 2014 Inspector General report found that “some sites had evidence placed in hallways, stacked outside cabins and in break rooms. Additionally, seven of the nine offices did not keep grand jury materials in a separate, secure area. Grand jury material was intermingled with non-grand jury evidence and other information on the record.
In the nine sites inspected, the Inspector General found that none of them had an evidence access control log. When questioned, IRS management said they didn’t think it was “necessary.”
The IRS has not earned the trust of the American people. In a recent example, the agency deliberately destroyed more than 30 million active paper files submitted by taxpayers. This amount of paper would reach a height of two miles if stacked in a single pile. The IRS destroyed the files and then didn’t bother to tell anyone. Only an on-site inspection revealed the event.
The agency has proven unable or unwilling to protect taxpayers’ personal data. Fifteen months ago it was revealed that a thief or financial backer appeared to have gained full, top-down access to everyone’s tax returns. The person or people sent thousands of files – spanning a 15-year period – to progressive outlet Pro Publica, which just released details just as Democrats were launching their tax hike effort.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen immediately vowed to get to the bottom of this. But since, the crickets. It doesn’t appear to be a priority for the IRS or the Biden administration.
The agency is even unable to be entrusted with taxpayer-funded vehicles. The Inspector General found that the agency already has too many cars and cannot show documentation that the vehicles are used strictly for official business.
In a sample audit, the IRS watchdog found that three officers drove between 95,000 and 272,000 miles in a calendar year. The criteria for use are 7,200 miles per year or less than one-tenth the mileage driven by these agents.
And now, the wording of the Democratic bill calls for the purchase of a new fleet of cars for the IRS.
The legislation also calls for additional funds for “office rent” from the IRS. Simply put, it’s laughable, because 53% of IRS employees “work from home” full time and don’t set foot in an office. The agency should consider reducing its office footprint to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
It’s no surprise that Democrats want to overkill the IRS, since most new agents will join the IRS syndicate that donates 100% of its PAC spending to Democrats. Imagine how much additional revenue will be generated for Democratic campaign coffers over the next decade.
The American taxpayer deserves better than the current version of the IRS. We give up so much of our income and livelihood to an agency that can’t even be trusted to treat us with dignity or to handle our money and personal information carefully and respectfully.
It’s no wonder Democrats rushed the bill before too many Americans noticed.
• Ben Susser is a communications associate at Americans for Tax Reform