Skip to content

Smith, Schweikert Demand Key Document from IRS on Destruction of 30 Million Tax Records

July 25, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three years after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) destroyed 30 million unprocessed, paper-filed informational tax returns, the agency continues to refuse to hand over a memorandum requested by the Ways and Means Committee detailing the decision to do so. In a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert (AZ-01) are demanding the agency provide a copy of the memorandum as requested and answer questions that the agency willfully ignored from Republicans last year.


Smith and Schweikert highlight how the failure of the Biden Administration to respond to the Committee’s multiple requests harms the ability of Congress to perform appropriate oversight that could lead to reforms to reduce burdens on American taxpayers:


“The Biden Administration’s refusal to respond to the Committee, engage in a substantive discussion with staff about the request, and ultimately deny access to the decision memorandum obstructs Congress’s ability to conduct our important oversight responsibilities…The decision to destroy information returns diligently prepared by millions of American taxpayers demands congressional oversight. The destruction of these returns raises the question of whether information reporting should be scaled back to reduce the burden placed on taxpayers in reporting information the IRS does not even use.”


The letter lays out in detail the timeline of the IRS’ failure to comply with congressional oversight:


  • March 2021 – IRS destroys 30 million paper-filed, informational tax returns.
  • May 4, 2022 – Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) publishes report documenting IRS operations in which it discloses the destruction of the 30 million records. The Ways and Means Committee is made aware through a briefing by TIGTA during which TIGTA agrees to provide the decision memorandum to the committee upon approval by the IRS.
  • May 17, 2022 – Committee staff request a copy of the memorandum. Within 24 hours, the IRS denies the request, claiming that releasing it would pose “significant risk to the agency.”
  • June 13, 2022 – Ways and Means Republican Leader sends a letter to the IRS requesting a copy of the memorandum and asking questions about what impact this decision to destroy 30 million tax returns will have on taxpayers and what steps the IRS is taking to improve its processes.
  • July 26, 2022 – Ways and Means Republicans file a congressional Resolution of Inquiry directing the Treasury Secretary to provide Congress a copy of the IRS Small Business/Self Employed Division Decision Memorandum and any other memorandum related to the decision to destroy 30 million tax returns. The Democrat majority on the Committee votes down the resolution.
  • October 20, 2022 – Ways and Means Republicans send letter to IRS instructing the agency to preserve all documents and communications related to the memorandum and reiterating the committee’s request for a copy.


Read the full letter here.