“‘On our very first bill, we’re going to repeal 87,000 IRS agents. Our job is to work for you, not go after you.’”
— House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican
House Republicans pledged to reverse the Biden administration’s hiring plans at the Internal Revenue Service on Friday, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing that it’s their “job to to work for you, not go after you.”
McCarthy’s comments came as part of the rollout of the GOP’s “Commitment to America,” an agenda detailing the party’s legislative priorities should it retake control of the House in November’s midterm elections.
“On that very first day that we’re sworn in, you’ll see that it all changes,” the California Republican said at an event in Monongahela, Pa. “Because on our very first bill, we’re going to repeal 87,000 IRS agents. Our job is to work for you, not go after you. Our job is to make America stronger.”
The hiring increase is coming as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in August, which includes about $80 billion for the IRS over the next ten years. The 87,000 figure comes from a Treasury Department report which estimated that would be the number of positions the funding would allow for, including non-agent positions such as IT technicians.
Related: Yes, the IRS is hiring criminal investigators empowered to use deadly force — but here’s some important context
And see: Fact check: No, the IRS is not hiring an 87,000-strong military force with funds from the Inflation Reduction Act
No Republican voted in favor of the Inflation Reduction Act, and its funding for the IRS has particularly come under criticism by House Republicans.
“You know, all of my years in Congress, I have never had a single phone call from anybody saying, ‘Steve, please add more people to the IRS,’” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, said at Friday’s event. “If there’s 87,000 people needed in America, it’s at the border to secure America’s border, not over at the IRS to go after small businesses and hard-working families.”
McCarthy previously claimed the provision would cause increased audits for those making less than $75,000 annually. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has directed the IRS not to use any of the new funding to increase audits of households making less than $400,000 annually “relative to historical levels.”
Proponents of the increased funding note that staffing increases would help reduce the backlog of tax returns — the agency said it had nearly 9 million unprocessed individual returns in August — and comes as the agency expects to lose 50,000 workers in the next five years due to retirement and other departures.
Read more: The Inflation Reduction Act sends $80 billion to the IRS, but some tax experts wonder if it’s enough for the badly backlogged agency
Still, Republicans remain skeptical that the funding won’t be used to audit middle- and lower-income families.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, told supporters at the Friday event that under Democrats, taxes and regulation go up.
“What the Democratic Congress has just done is give us the best example, when they want to hire 87,000 people to go after billionaires, they say,” McHenry said. “Do they really need 87,000 people to go after billionaires? No, they’re coming after your PayPal account.”
“They’ve changed regulations so they can look at your bank accounts of $600 or more transactions,” he continued, referring to a new rule requiring services such as Venmo and PayPal
to report commercial transactions of more than $600.
“So those 87,000 IRS agents are not about someone else, they’re about every one of us that are taxpayers. We’re going to stop that, we’re going to check that, we’re going to put you back in charge of your own accounts.”
Now read: Midterm elections: If this seat flips red, Republicans will have ‘probably won a relatively comfortable House majority’
Plus: Political ad spending is breaking records: Here’s where the money’s going in critical Senate races
And see: Midterm elections: Republican edge over Democrats erodes in this one key indicator