by Bob Barr
As legislative red flags go, they don’t get much bigger than what the Biden Administration is attempting — $80 billion of additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service so the agency can more than double the number of employees it now has.
At the moment, Biden’s plan to hire 87,000 new IRS employees is stuck in senatorial limbo — part of his “Build Back Better” plan passed late last year by the House. While Senate Republicans are holding firm against passing “BBB,” there is a real danger Democrats could slip the IRS provision (or major pieces of it) into some other “must pass” legislation and “Presto!” the agency doubles in size and power.
Democrats appear perfectly comfortable buying the President’s absurd claim that not only will the massive BBB “cost nothing,” but that increasing the size and power of the IRS will turn a profit and will target only “the rich.”
Their IRS expansion plan is a massive lie, with major consequences not just for the wealthy but for all citizens; and its successful implementation could be aided thanks to the hubbub surrounding the one-year anniversary of the events of last January 6, which provides a perfect cover for Democrats to sneak these changes through under the radar.
As a threshold question, why would the IRS need to double in size and rake in $80 billion in additional funding if its agents are only going after the rich? After all, the agency already does this, as evidenced by the fact that audit rates for the wealthy are significantly higher than for those in lower income brackets. If the IRS was truly short-staffed, and the rich were really the choice target for recovering owed taxes on unreported income, then it could easily allocate resources to pursue these so-called high earners, whose tax returns are easy to identify. Instead, the IRS appears to be setting its sights on small businesses and independent contractors for companies like Uber and Instacart.
Actually, new reporting requirements coming from the IRS make clear its targets are not Elon Musk but rather Joe Six-Pack.
A new change in the tax law for 2022 increases reporting requirements for financial institutions serving customers with more than just $600 in pass-through income. Previously this figure was $20,000. This means that everyone from Uber drivers to kids mowing grass who earn more than $600 in gross income will be on the IRS’ compliance radar, since they have “self-reported income.”
The IRS coming after these income earners is like drawing blood from a stone. Nevertheless, it is what Democrats have been reduced to in trying to pay for their ultra-extravagant social programs. They have finally reached a point at which shaking down the rich is not enough, so they now are going after low-income workers . . . but without admitting it.
Democrat claims that all this is solely to ensure everyone pays their “fair share” ring hollow, but it does illustrate just how far the Party has diverged from its roots of protecting vulnerable individuals from abusive government practices.
One of President Donald Trump’s most notable, if rarely heralded accomplishments, was slashing the IRS budget and forcing it to be more discerning about who and what they pursued for audits. Importantly, even with the Trump Administration’s cuts to the IRS budget, the agency has been able to increase tax revenues by an estimated 22 percent since the 2017 tax cuts. It did, however, reduce IRS bullying of citizens – a trend Democrats now want to reverse.
Big Government Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren love to send out Tweets lambasting billionaires. There is no political price to be paid by these “limousine liberals” for engaging in rhetorical class warfare, even as they consciously ignore the fact that high-income earners like Elon Musk are merely taking advantage of tax breaks that Congress itself enacted.
It would take a far greater degree of wisdom and honesty than Biden and his congressional allies possess, to explain why their Build Back Better plan puts working class citizens and small business owners in the crosshairs of the IRS.
Democrats aren’t building America back better. They’re busy building big bureaucracies bigger. And arrogantly lying to the voters as they do so.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.