In case you missed it, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig published an op-ed on Yahoo Finance: IRS sets the record straight: We’re going after tax-evaders, not honest Americans (yahoo.com).
This is an op-ed from Charles P. Rettig, the 49th Commissioner of the IRS.
As the nation’s tax administrator, the IRS plays a unique role in our nation. It can be a difficult job. After all, does anyone really like paying taxes? Of course not. But they’re essential to fund the roads we drive on, the schools our children attend, support our military and so much more. Unfortunately, given the nature of this work and historical stereotypes, the IRS is often perceived as an easy target for mischaracterizations of what IRS employees do — and that’s exactly what’s happened in recent weeks.
The recent debate over providing badly needed funding to the IRS is filled with outright false suggestions about what the agency and our hard-working employees do — as well as how the additional resources will be handled.
The bottom line is this: These resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small business or middle-income Americans. The investment of these important resources is designed to support honest, compliant taxpayers. Our investment is designed around a Treasury directive that audit rates do not rise relative to recent years for households making under $400,000.
We all want a fair and impartial system where everyone contributes their fair share, no more and certainly no less. A robust, visible tax enforcement effort focused on high-end tax evaders and those supporting them is a priority. Underpayments by tax evaders shift the burden of operating our great country onto honest, hard-working Americans who follow the law.
With this new law, honest taxpayers will see badly needed, meaningful service improvements at the IRS. The IRS should be able to answer the phones and process information — including tax returns — in a timely manner. Enhanced IT systems and taxpayer services will mean that honest taxpayers will be better able to comply with the tax laws, ultimately resulting in a lower — yes, lower — likelihood of being audited and a reduced burden on them.
To set the record straight on this important legislation and dispel any lingering misperceptions, here are some key facts to keep in mind:To set the record straight on this important legislation and dispel any lingering misperceptions, here are some key facts to keep in mind:
False Statement: The IRS is hiring 87,000 armed special agents to harass
Reality: Absolutely false. The majority of new hires the IRS
makes will be those who answer the phones, work on processing individual tax
returns or go after high-end taxpayers or corporations who are avoiding their
taxes. Less than 1% of new hires will be in our IRS Criminal Investigation
(IRS-CI) area, which currently has a total of about 2,100 special agents and is
currently hiring about 300 more.
These CI special agents
investigate criminal tax violations typically related to money laundering, Bank
Secrecy, National Security and National Defense matters. They have been
involved in dismantling terrorist financing efforts and criminal cartels as
well as eliminating child exploitation operations in the Dark Net that led to
the arrests of hundreds of people throughout the world. They do not perform
civil tax administrative functions such as audits of tax returns. They are law
enforcement officers, and every American should be extremely proud they are on
False Statement: All IRS employees — and those being hired under the
new legislation — will carry firearms.
Reality: Again, absolutely false. More than 97% of IRS
employees do not carry weapons. This includes key civil-side enforcement
personnel, including revenue agents, examiners and others involved in audits
and compliance work. Less than 3% of IRS employees — expressly limited to
Criminal Investigation special agents — carry firearms. IRS Criminal
Investigation oversees the entirety of the work related to criminal violations
of the tax law and other financial crimes. This is consistent with other
federal law enforcement agencies.
False Statement: The additional funding will be used to hire more
auditors to “shake down” average taxpayers.
Reality: False. Wage-earning taxpayers like firefighters,
construction workers, teachers and police officers are among the most compliant
taxpayers, given that their incomes come from Forms W-2 and 1099. These
resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small
businesses or middle-income Americans. Instead, the additional resources will
also be focused on large corporate and high net-worth taxpayers to enforce laws
already on the books that the IRS does not have enough resources to pursue.
False Statement: The new legislation will be a massive overnight
expansion of the IRS.
Reality: False. This funding — which will be spread over 10
years — will add employees over time as we modernize our operations with
meaningful technological enhancements. In addition, the IRS has one of the
oldest workforces in government, and staffing has been in a deep decline for
many years. More than 50,000 employees will retire in the next few years,
leaving the foundation of the tax system that the nation relies on at risk.
We’ve been losing 10,000 employees a year.
Overall, current IRS staffing is
far below historical norms. In 1992, the IRS had 117,000 employees — 38,000
more than today. Back then, the agency was dealing with fewer taxpayers; the
U.S. population has grown almost 30% since 1992.
False Statement: This new funding will allow overreach by the IRS,
putting agents on every street corner and prying into people’s personal
Reality: False. This funding will allow the IRS to better
serve the nation’s taxpayers — and ultimately meet the critical needs of our
country. Our employees care and, like others in government, take an oath to
support our country. We take pride in hiring veterans, people with disabilities
and people from all walks of life and from every corner of our country. Many of
our employees, including myself, are members of a military family. And all of
our employees reflect the taxpayers we serve.
I am an extremely proud American,
a member of a proud military family, and simply will not accept baseless,
harmful assertions against the interests of our country and the proud,
hard-working employees of the IRS. Everyone should know this about IRS
employees: We care, a lot, about this country and you.
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