In the midst of a recession and on the heels of rampant public paranoia regarding Department of Justice overreach in their raid on the home of a former president, Democrats by straight party vote just passed a whopping $737 billion “Inflation Reduction Act” that will more than double the size of the IRS.
New upfront funding of $79 billion will add about 87,000 new IRS agents to the scandal-ridden and union-dominated agency federal payroll, increasing its current $12.6 billion annual budget which supports about 35,000 enforcement agents more than six times.
This, after all, is the same politicized agency that oversaw Lois Lerner’s secret sabotage of conservative tea party-related groups ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
And don’t believe Biden administration claims that no one earning less than $400,000 will take tax hits from that marching army to be added to the federal payroll.
The nonpartisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation determined that taxes would increase by up to $16.7 billion for Americans making less than $200,000 in 2023, and increase by $14.1 billion for those earning between $200,000 and $500,000.
For starters, consider where much of those premised $204 billion in new revenues will really need to come from based upon Congressional Budget Office estimates.
According to the CBO, returning to 2010 audit rates for all individuals making over $400,000 would generate only 28%, or $9.9 billion, out of the estimated $35.3 billion in new IRS enforcement revenues by 2031.
Also, according to the CBO, even increasing recent audit rates thirty-fold for taxpayers making over $400,000 — including 100% audit rates on taxpayers with incomes over $10 million — would still fall more than 20% short of raising those new revenue targets.
And why all those agents just to go after really rich folks?
According to the Heritage Foundation, auditing every single taxpayer with annual income over $1 million would require only 25,000 new IRS enforcement agents if that was really the plan.
So, here’s a possible clue.
A 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) states that as for audits producing the biggest bang for the bucks: “From fiscal years 2010 to 2021, the majority of the additional taxes IRS recommended from audits came from taxpayers with incomes below $200,000.”
Maybe recall the logic in this expressed by Willie Sutton when asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.”
The GAO notes that “audits of the lowest-income taxpayers, particularly those claiming the EITC [earned income tax credit], resulted in higher amounts of recommended additional tax per audit hour compared to all income groups except for the highest-income taxpayers.”
The Treasury Department’s report on the proposed new funding includes a footnote highlighting the already-high prevalence of IRS audits among low-income households: “Work by former IRS economist Kim Bloomquist points out that the five counties with the highest audit rates are predominantly African-American, rural counties in the South.”
Based on IRS data, individual filers reporting less than $50,000 of income have accounted for 62% of underreported taxes. Accordingly, expect small businesses and middle-class taxpayers to be subject to more IRS scrutiny, particularly since they are least able to afford legally contesting audit assessments.
And although the authority is not included in this legislation, remember that President Biden has even proposed requiring financial institutions to provide the IRS sensitive information on bank accounts with as little as $600.
If Democrats truly intended to focus the new wave of audits on those making $400,000 or more, why would they have vetoed a legislative amendment by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) that would ensure doing so by permanently extending income tax cuts for small businesses and individuals that were passed in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)?
All 50 Democrat senators voted “no” on this amendment, while all 50 Republican Senators voted “yes.”
Thanks to TCJA, according to IRS data the average American household earning between $50,000 and $100,000 saw their average tax liability drop over 13%.
Not coincidentally, one group will definitely benefit from the Democrats’ generosity.
The vast majority of those new IRS agents will likely join and pay dues to the IRS’ public sector union, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
According to Americans for Tax Reform, the union gave 100% of its Political Action Committee (PAC) funding to Democrats for the 2022 cycle, including $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $30,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and $30,000 to the DNC Services Corporation.
A group dedicated to NTEU also gave 98.79% of its federal candidate spending for the 2021-2022 cycle to Democrats, most notably House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and specifically prioritized donating to key Democratic battleground races, such as donating $5,000 to Raphael Warnock’s Georgia Senate race, and $10,000 to Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.
Given famously frenetic fervor over audits of former President Donald Trump’s filings, it will be interesting to watch whether the freshly weaponized IRS takes comparable interest in Biden family foreign influence peddling windfalls.
According to a CBS News report, U.S. banks had flagged more than 150 suspicious financial activity transactions involving Hunter or the president's brother James for further review by the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ... some involving large wire transfers.
In any case, don’t expect any of those new agents to conduct an armed raid on Joe’s $2 million Wilmington, Delaware mansion or new Rehoboth Beach home and rifle through first lady Jill’s wardrobe closets for criminal evidence any time soon.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 12 books is "Architectures Beyond Boxes and Boundaries: My Life By Design" (2022). Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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