Republicans Vote to Slash $71 Billion in New IRS Funding, Passing First Bill Since Taking Control of House
In a largely symbolic vote illustrating the legislative cross-currents that will roil Congress for the next two years, House Republicans on Monday voted to claw back $71 billion of the $80 billion in funding a Democratic-controlled Congress bestowed upon the Internal Revenue Service last year.
The bill passed the House on a 221-210 vote, according to The Hill. However, it has no chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed by President Joe Biden, as The New York Times reported.
But the bill – by intent the first legislation passed under a GOP-controlled House – affirmed a promise made to voters who gave Republicans their narrow House majority.
“The IRS. does not need a raise — it needs a reckoning,” Republican Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri said in a speech Monday on the House floor.
In a statement on his website foreshadowing contention to come, Smith, who is expected to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote that, “Americans also expect us to hold the Biden Administration accountable for the crises it has caused and to once again exercise Congress’s oversight authority which has been entirely absent under one-party Democrat rule in Washington. Republicans will meet these challenges and more, head-on, every day of this Congress.”
“Our first step is defunding the $80 billion pay increase Democrats gave the IRS to hire 87,000 new agents to target working families. But we are not stopping there,” he wrote.
“If confirmed, the new IRS Commissioner should plan to spend a lot of time before our committee answering questions about the leaking of sensitive taxpayer information and an agency with a history of targeting conservative Americans. We will make it clear to every IRS employee that the Ways & Means Committee welcomes whistleblower efforts to uncover corrupt behavior at that agency,” he said.
The vote came as The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University released data showing the IRS audits low-income taxpayers more than America’s richest ones, according to Fox News.
The group’s report said computer-generated letters to taxpayers amounted to 85 percent of IRS auditing activity in the 2022 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.
Overall, audits fell from 659,003 in the 2021 fiscal year to 626,204 in the 2022 fiscal year, the report stated.
The group found that the chance of a taxpayer in the lowest bracket being audited was 12.7 per 1,000, For those in the highest bracket, the odds of an audit were 2.3 per 1,000.
The report noted low-income taxpayers were five times more likely to face an audit in fiscal 2022 than in fiscal 2021, according to Fox.
With that as the background, Republican Rep. Adrian Smith of Nebraska, who sponsored the bill, said reforming the IRS is a top priority for America, according to The Hill.
“There are numerous reasons to support this bill. It protects families and small businesses. It ensures agencies are funded appropriately. Most importantly, it stops autopilot funding for an out-of-control government agency that is perhaps most in need of reform,” Smith said, according to The Hill.
“IRS needs to fix its customer service and return processing problems, not focus on auditing families and small businesses. Americans want an IRS that works for them, not against them. This bill is a great first step in that direction.”
The IRS claimed the GOP was aimed at helping the wealthy.
“House Republicans’ legislation would allow wealthy and corporate tax evaders to continue avoiding taxes owed, increasing the burden on honest, hardworking families who pay their taxes with every paycheck,” Ashley Schapitl, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, said, according to The New York Times.
“The IRS audits nearly 80 percent fewer millionaires than a decade ago, and this legislation would deny the agency much-needed resources to hire top talent to go after the $163 billion in taxes avoided by the top 1 percent annually.”
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