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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Hearing with IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel

February 15, 2024

As prepared for delivery.

“Thank you Commissioner Werfel for appearing before the Ways and Means Committee a little earlier than usual this year. We have a lot to go over with you, so I appreciate you answering the request of our Members to come before the Committee early this year.

“First, as it pertains to the current 2023 tax filing season, I want to thank you and your team for the technical work to ensure the quick and without delay implementation of provisions of the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act. We particularly appreciate the steps the agency is taking right now to be ready to immediately implement the legislation once the Senate passes the bill and it is signed into law, especially with regard to adjustments to the Child Tax Credit. 

“I think we are also largely aligned on the importance of rooting out fraud in the Employee Retention Tax Credit program. We look forward to hearing about your efforts, not just in eliminating that fraud, but also making sure that small businesses across America who filed legitimate claims receive their credits as soon as possible. 

“While I’m grateful for your partnership in these efforts, it won’t surprise you that I have a number of concerns about the Biden Administration’s approach to the IRS and about the IRS’s handling of several important issues. 

“Last time you were before this Committee, the IRS had chosen to delay a provision of a law crafted by the Biden Administration and Congressional Democrats that would send tax forms to 44 million Americans just for engaging in transactions over $600 in a year. This includes transactions like simply selling a used couch or concert ticketthrough a third-party payment platform. Once again, the IRS unilaterally chose to delay implementing the law or sending these forms – this time in an election year. 

“To be clear, Republicans are united behind repealing this terrible policy, and I want to thank Representative Miller for her leadership on the repeal effort. But the way to fix this terrible law is to repeal it, not to use the IRS to shield the Biden Administration from the consequences of its own policy.

“Also, last time you were before this Committee, you said the IRS would not retaliate against whistleblowers. One of the IRS whistleblowers who has appeared before this Committee has since alleged the IRS retaliated against him for exposing the truth about the DOJ’s preferential treatment of Hunter Biden. I hope you will share what steps have been taken to protect whistleblowers.

“And just a couple weeks ago, a Judge sentenced an IRS contractor to five years in prison for the greatest theft of taxpayer information in American history. I think the Department of Justice woefully undercharged this individual, but I’m pleased the Judge applied the maximum sentence available to her. 

“But this story doesn’t end with that case. The IRS must be accountable for allowing this theft to happen and must ensure that it fixes security vulnerabilities at the agency. A recent report from the Inspector General described alarming details about current IRS security flaws that demonstrate the problem has not been resolved. I hope that you will commit today to address their findings quickly, for the sake of millions of taxpayers.

“We have serious questions about numerous other issues such as the implementation of an IRS direct file scheme that the American people didn’t ask for; how the IRS is spending its windfall of $80 billion; and fantasy-land claims about how much revenue the agency thinks it will generate from increased audits.  

“Frankly, more of the IRS’s time and resources should be directed toward improving its customer service for its existing duties, not spending money and resources on new systems no one asked for. Part of that focus should be on deploying new technology to make the IRS more efficient. Proper use of technology can help avoid the need to hire thousands and thousands of new employees. I want to thank Representative Schweikert for leading the charge to ensure the IRS is taking advantage of new technology to help taxpayers.

“Clearly, there is a lot the IRS needs to answer for, and I look forward to hearing how your agency plans to follow the law and protect taxpayers moving forward.”