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New Schumer-Manchin Bill Will Supercharge Long History of IRS Abuses 

August 02, 2022

Despite a long history of IRS abuses, Democrats have revived their proposal to send 87,000 new IRS agents after you and your family-owned business on the belief that everyone is a tax cheat. The IRS has already been targeting lower and middle income earners, yet Democrats want to hire new IRS agents to audit individuals and small businesses. They’ve also promised to revive their invasive bank surveillance scheme.

READ: One-Pager: Once Again, Biden Pushes to Supercharge an Increasingly Politicized IRS

Democrats want to increase audits for all individuals by more than 1.2 million per year:

  • A Senate Finance Committee analysis shows the $45.6 billion for “enforcement” would “predominantly hit taxpayers who have low (or very low) Adjusted Gross Income. Nothing in the proposal would change that fact.”
  • Nearly half of the audits would hit Americans making $75,000 per year or less.
  • Low-income taxpayers making up to $25,000 per year would see more audits too.
  • Despite a clear need for greater taxpayer customer service amidst a historic tax return backlog, only $3.2 billion of Democrats’ $80 billion is earmarked for that purpose.

Supercharging the IRS will lay the groundwork for the monitoring the Biden Administration has pledged to impose. Top Biden officials have made clear they have not given up on implementing IRS bank surveillance.

READ: WRAP-UP: Victims of Politicized IRS Say Agency is Institutionally Incapable of Self-Correcting

Key Background:

Overly broad IRS targeting spanning decades has claimed many victims, and Democrats are trying to revive it.

  • Former IRS official Lois Lerner apologized in 2013 that Tea Party groups and other groups had been targeted for audits of their applications for tax-exemption, which effectively delayed that status until they could no longer take effective part in the 2012 election. The Treasury Inspector General found that “Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review” back in 2013.
  • In 1998, the Washington Post reported that “An Oklahoma tax-return preparer, a Texas oilman and a Virginia restaurateur told lawmakers how raiding parties of armed agents from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division barged into their homes or offices, frightened their employees and families — and ultimately came up empty-handed.”
    • “Two of the men said they later found that former employees had precipitated the raids, and that the IRS had done little or no checking on their informants’ credibility. The third witness said he never could determine why he was targeted.”
  • In 1997, CNN reported testimony from an expert that the IRS was “the best secret-keeping agency in our government today: “I discovered that the IRS does keep lists of American citizens for no reason other than that their political activities might have offended someone at the IRS; about how the IRS believes that anyone who offers even legitimate criticism of the tax collector is a tax protester; about how the IRS shreds its paper trail, which means that there is no history, no evidence and, ultimately, no accountability.” (Audio) 
  • Robert Schriebman, a tax professor at the University of Southern California and author of eight books critical of IRS practices and procedures, decried the agency’s ability to ignore citizens’ due-process protections. “The IRS can take a taxpayer’s home by just the signature of the district director alone,” he said.
  • These abuses led to numerous attempts at overhauling the agency, and the latest still has not yet been implemented.

READ: BRADY: With Its History of Political Targeting, Why Would We Reward the IRS with Greater Power Over Sensitive Taxpayer Data?

IRS agents have wrongly seized millions from small businesses when given the opportunity.

  • In an apparent show of strength, past IRS actions led to the seizure of more than $43 million from bank accounts of hundreds of small businesses; the results of those actions in a recent case led to local wedding dress shop being permanently shut down.
  • Only after intense pressure from Congress did the IRS return the money that had been taken to some of the businesses, including a Maryland dairy farmer.

READ: Under Pressure from Committee, IRS Returns Nearly $30K to Maryland Farmer Whose Assets Were Wrongly Seized Under Civil Asset Forfeiture Policies

IRS political leaks have been a problem whenever Democrats have been in the White House.

  • The last time President Biden was in the White House in 2011, Democrats pushed for billions more in enforcement without providing clear, independent analysis supporting the funding, relying on information provided by activist groups aligned with their political objectives, and the IRS, which stood to gain funding.
  • Prior to the 2021 leak, ProPublica previously received (and published) leaked taxpayer information from the IRS in 2012 that just so happened to include critics of the Democrat administration.

Political targeting By IRS threatens religious organizations and critics alike.

IRS mismanagement is well documented.

  • An audit of the IRS itself, conducted from FYs 2010 – 2012 and published in 2013, found “inappropriate use of taxpayer funds being spent on conferences and reviews selected conferences to determine whether the conferences were properly approved, and the expenditures were appropriated.”
  • Another audit in 2019 found that the IRS wasted millions of dollars on software licenses it purchased but never used due to mismanagement of IT contracts and systems updates.
  • Despite the Biden Administration’s claim that more money will increase IRS audits and increase revenue from wealthy individuals and corporations, the Inspector General actually found that after spending $22 million and 200 hours auditing large businesses, the IRS was unsuccessful in bringing in money to the Treasury from those audits nearly 50 percent of the time.

READ: LETTER: Political Targeting and Lawlessness at IRS Should Not Be Rewarded