Biden Is Hiring an Army of 87,000 IRS Agents? Not So Fast

Biden Is Hiring an Army of 87,000 IRS Agents? Not So Fast

A popular claim about IRS funding in the Inflation Reduction Act doesn't give the whole picture.

Last week, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a piece of legislation that contains some remnants of Biden’s 2021-era Build Back Better agenda, including money for climate and an extension of some aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

The bill also allocates a ten-year, $79.6 billion funding boost for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been underfunded for years. And one of the key "pay-fors" to fund the legislation is an estimated $124 billion that will be collected through stepped-up IRS tax enforcement.

This has led to a consistent talking point among Republican opponents of the bill: it will lead to the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents, described in some versions as an “army.”

The Manchin-Schumer bill will create 87,000 new IRS agents to target regular, everyday Americans,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted earlier this month, adding the all-caps flourish of “STOP BIDEN’S SHADOW ARMY!”

“Do you make $75,000 or less? Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you—with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted this week.

That claim, however, is misleading, according to a fact check published by Time magazine.

The “87,000” figure appears to come from a 2021 Treasury Department report, which stated that if $78 million in new IRS funding was approved, it would enable the IRS to hire 87,000 employees by 2031 (ten years after the report.)

However, per Time, the 87,000 employees would not all be IRS agents, nor would they all be new employees. Many of the expected hires would replace those who have retired or left, or will in the future.

Plus, the increase in employees would be phased in over ten years, not all at once. Many of the new hires would likely arrive when Biden is long out of office.

The bill does not mandate the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents, employees, or anything like that at all.

“It is wholly inaccurate to describe any of these resources as being about increasing audit scrutiny of the middle class or small businesses,” Natasha Sarin, a counselor for tax policy and implementation at the Treasury Department, told Time.

“There’s a big wave of attrition that’s coming and a lot of these resources are just about filling those positions,” she added.

Per Time, the new funding would be more likely to “restore the tax-collecting agency’s staff to where it was roughly a decade ago.” That dates back to when the new Republican Congress, starting in 2011, began attempting to cut the IRS’ funding.

As a result, the report said, the IRS currently has a backlog of more than 10 million unprocessed tax returns.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.