A reporter at the Washington Post claimed yesterday that employees at the Internal Revenue Service told him that “right-wing rhetoric has raised fears that workers could be targeted at their workplaces or in public if they’re identified as IRS employees.”
The Post suggests that public comments by California Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Georgia Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde, and Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott serve as evidence of this rhetoric.
Rep. Clyde told The American Conservative in response, “It’s no surprise that the left-wing media is attempting to discredit valid concerns about Democrats’ new supersized IRS.”
The congressman continued, “After being wrongfully targeted by the IRS myself, I can assure folks that the comparison between the weaponization of the IRS and FBI isn’t far-fetched. Democrats have dangerously weaponized both agencies, and until these institutions start working for the American people instead of liberal elites, we will only see an increase in both unjust audits and unjust political persecution.”
The article also references a public letter released by Senator Scott, which claims that the “massive expansion of the IRS will make it larger than Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection and the State Department combined.”
The congressmen are referring to the changes effected by the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill passed along party lines and signed into law by President Biden last Tuesday that adds over $75 billion to the IRS budget through 2031. Over sixty percent of those added funds (more than $45 billion) is allocated for enforcement.
At least a portion of these enforcement funds will be granted to the Criminal Investigations Division (IRS-CI), the federal law enforcement agency that gained attention last week after Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie shared a video on Twitter that went viral. The video includes an interview with a special agent in the division, who says that agents “generally [wear] ammunition, handcuffs, and first aid.” When asked if agents carry tasers, the agent said, “no tasers.” The IRS-CI boasts a 2,046-member force of special agents that primarily focuses its investigative time on tax crimes.
In a recent job posting, the IRS-CI included “Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary” on the list of major duties for the special agent position; that job responsibility has since been removed from the agency’s website.
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One example of the agency threatening violent force for non-violent crimes was recounted in a 1998 Senate Finance Committee testimony by Texas oil tycoon William Moncrief: “My employees heard the agents shout, ‘IRS! This business is under criminal investigation. Remove your hands from the keyboards and back away from the computers. And remember, we are armed.’”
More recently, reports by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) describe patterns of negligence and training discrepancies for the agents. A 2017 report claims that, “In only five of the 229 interviews conducted, noncustodial statements of rights, such as the right to remain silent, were provided.” Another from 2012 says that nineteen firearm discharges were reported between 2009-2011: eight were intentional and eleven were accidental.
The IRS reported in June that “the agency had a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns.” Experts say the recently added funds should clear that up in no time.