Few differences between Democrats and Republicans are sharper than their approaches to the Internal Revenue Service. Republicans believe the IRS’s priorities should be fairly administering the law and keeping Americans’ interactions with the agency simple and few, which was a central achievement of our 2017 tax-reform law. Democrats seem to value revenue above efficiency or accountability and are intent on creating a far bigger and more intrusive enforcement-focused agency. With the narrowest of majorities they have implemented radical changes to the IRS while refusing to provide accountability and oversight. If Republican majorities take Congress, that will change.
Democrats talk about their intent to shield middle-income Americans from their new auditing regime, but all 50 Senate Democrats rejected an amendment Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) proposed to the IRA that would do just that. Without a protection in law, the IRS’s new enforcement money is bound to make middle-income Americans’ lives harder – it’ll be enough to hire four new enforcement agents for every town in the U.S. But if Republicans take Congress, Mr. Crapo’s provision would be able to prevail in the form of a new bill he and I wrote barring any of the new IRS funding from being used to audit taxpayers who earn less than $400,000.
And when the Senate returns to session after the midterm elections, one of my first orders of business will be introducing legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) to give Congress a direct say in how these new IRS funds are used. If our bill becomes law, the new IRS funding will be frozen until the agency presents a coherent plan to Congress for how it would be used. If Congress disagrees with what has been proposed, the plan can be rejected through a newly created resolution of disapproval.
Our bill would also force the IRS to comply with a consistent and strict reporting process so that the agency is transparent with the Americans funding it. The IRS received a sum equal to six times the agency’s 2022 budget under the IRA; taxpayers deserve to know where all that money is going. If the IRS fails to meet reporting deadlines, portions of the new funding would be automatically rescinded on a daily basis until the agency complies. If there’s one way to get a federal agency to pay attention, it’s by tightening the purse strings.
One more seat in the Senate and a few in the House are all that Republicans need to provide real accountability to taxpayers and help ensure that an IRS agent doesn’t unnecessarily come knocking on your door.
Read the op-ed in full here.