- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2022

The chair of the Senate Finance Committee criticized Republicans Friday for airing “incendiary conspiracy theories” about $80 billion in new IRS funding that will allow the revenue agency to hire tens of thousands of new employees.

Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, accused GOP figures of saying “shockingly irresponsible things” about the funding, which is part of President Biden’s tax and climate bill.

Treasury officials say audit rates will not rise for persons making less than $400,000 per year, though conservatives say everyday Americans will be put through the wringer at tax time.

“Given the social media chatter we’re already seeing, it’s all too easy to imagine individuals using these conspiracy theories as justification for violence against public servants and their families,” Mr. Wyden said. “It’s unbelievable that we even need to say this, but there are not going to be 87,000 armed IRS agents going door-to-door with assault weapons. This is funding for answering phone calls and upgrading computer systems.”

The House is set to vote to pass the major legislation on Friday. The Senate passed the bill with only Democratic votes last weekend, so it is on track to reach Mr. Biden’s desk.

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig recently told Congress that his agency has not had sufficient resources to offer decent customer service and implement tax laws fairly.

Congressional budget scorers say the new funding will help the IRS raise over $200 billion in revenue through 2031.

“These resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans,” Mr. Rettig told senators in an Aug. 4 letter.

Senior Republicans aren’t so sure. They said there is bound to be increased scrutiny of less wealthy Americans.

“Our biggest worry in this is that the burden for these audits will land on Walmart shoppers,” Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Others have drawn a link between the raid on former President Donald Trump’s house and the decision to beef up IRS enforcement, saying it is a hallmark of tyranny. Others say the funding is misplaced in a bill called the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Hiring 87,000 IRS agents will do nothing to reduce inflation,” Rep. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Republican, tweeted. “Pass it on.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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