Less than an hour ago, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – the Democrats’ new healthcare, climate, and tax reform package – into law. This is a historic and monumental achievement that will likely be remembered as one of Biden’s biggest legislative victories.
One of the most important elements of the IRA is the $80 billion in additional funding that the bill allocates to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the next decade. Years of budget cuts on the part of Republicans have left the agency in a deplorable state. Between 2010 and 2018, the IRS’s annual budget was cut by no less than $2.9 billion, an act of intentional sabotage that cost the agency almost a fifth of its staff and left it ill-equipped to perform tax audits, especially for millionaires and billionaires with hard-to-trace income sources.
You’d think that most Americans would join us in welcoming and celebrating a well-functioning IRS that can provide better service for most taxpayers and consequences for wealthy criminal tax cheats.
Unfortunately, not a single Republican joined Democrats in either the Senate or the House to vote to pass the IRA and give the IRS a critical boost in funding. And since these votes, the Republican opposition has only gotten nastier. Conservative politicians and high-profile media pundits have now taken to the airwaves to spread blatant disinformation about the IRS funding provision.
Republican lawmakers and pundits are saying that, with the new funds from the IRA, Democrats plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, arm them, and send them to audit working Americans and small business owners. Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Do you make $75,000 or less? Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you – with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k.”
As is often the case with conservative conspiracy theories, this has taken on a life of its own and is spiraling out of control. Some are now claiming that President Biden will use these supposed 87,000 IRS agents as a secret police force to target and knock down the doors of his political enemies.
Let’s be clear: absolutely none of this is true.
The new enforcement funding will be exclusively focused not on low- and middle-class workers but on the ultra-rich who are primarily responsible for America’s tax gap, i.e. the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid, which is currently estimated to be $600 billion annually.
The ultra-rich are the ones that have the resources to hire armies of tax lawyers to squirrel their millions and billions away in tax havens like the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands in an effort to dodge the taxman. They’re the ones who have been getting away with paying nothing because the IRS didn’t have the resources to properly audit them. And they’re the ones who are going to be affected by increased IRS enforcement (which, by the way, will only be about 5,000 new agents – certainly nowhere near football stadium size as Senator Lindsay Graham would have you believe).
If you’re a law-abiding taxpayer, you have nothing to fear. If you make less than $400,000, you have nothing to fear.
This anti-IRS fearmongering by Republicans is despicable, but at least it shows American voters who modern Republicans really are and what they stand for. They are not the party of “law and order,” as they like to claim. Instead, they have become the party of criminal apologists.
Make no mistake about it: anyone – Republican, Democrat, rich, poor, etc. – that illegally evades taxes is a criminal. Full stop. The IRS isn’t going after people who are taking advantage of loopholes; it’s going after people who break the law.
With this current misinformation campaign, not to mention years of IRS budget cuts, Republicans are doing everything they can to protect criminals (criminals who happen to be some of their major funders). In contrast, with their latest efforts through the IRA, Democrats are doing everything they can to go after anyone that would try to evade taxes and skirt the law.
Republican politicians’ protection of criminals does not stop with tax evasion. Republicans are also doing everything in their power to protect individuals, even former Presidents, that would try to steal classified documents. They did everything they could to defend those who stormed the Capitol on January 6 in an attempt to thwart the lawful certification of President Biden’s election. They did (and continue to do) everything they could to protect those who criminally lied to the American public in 2020 about voter fraud and election security. This is who they are to their core.
Democrats need to go on the offensive here. It’s not enough to just say “That’s not true” to Republican lies – they need to start calling out Republicans for protecting wealthy criminals in the first place. It’s time to aggressively tell the truth to the American public – about the IRS funding in the IRA and everything else in between. Democrats can show voters that, contrary to what Republicans would have them believe, they are the party of principles, integrity, and “law and order.” The conservative media ecosystem is loud, but if told correctly, the truth is always louder.