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The Fear Over IRS Funding

Posted on Aug. 22, 2022

One key aspect of the legislation known as the Inflation Reduction Act is its $80 billion in proposed new Internal Revenue Service funding over a ten-year period. There have been a number of excellent mainstream media summaries of the funding, including Laura Saunders’ WSJ article What $80 Billion More for the IRS Means for Your Taxes[$] and Alan Rappeport’s NYT article  Yellen Directs I.R.S. to Embark on $80 Billion Overhaul Plan[$]

There are serious issues surrounding how the IRS prioritizes and spends the significant increase in funding. We will consider some of those issues in the upcoming months and years.

While we try to avoid being partisan on this site, this past weekend I wrote an Op-Ed for NBC Think about the potentially dangerous rhetoric that politicians have been using to describe the funding. As I discuss, stirring the pot and scaring Americans about the IRS undermines trust and is potentially dangerous.

I am not naïve enough to think that the IRS at times never impinges on taxpayer’s rights. And the IRS at times has not helped itself, with taxpayers and practitioners frustrated at delays and unanswered phones.

A better resourced, more active and engaged IRS will hopefully center its actions on principles of sound administration. If it does not, people who care will take action, by writing articles and essays, filing amicus briefs and at times joining in litigation.

And we should expect Congress and other institutional actors to provide meaningful oversight. What is not helpful is politicians and some in the media using the legislation to scare Americans into thinking that the funding will lead to an army of armed IRS agents threatening people’s basic liberties.

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