An audit notice from the IRS is scary. Up to 87,000 more IRS agents in the “Inflation Reduction Act” President Joe Biden signed Tuesday is troubling. And the IRS stockpile of 4,600 guns and 5 million rounds of ammunition is downright unnerving.
How many of the new agents will be packing heat? Democrats won’t say.
The IRS arsenal of 4,600 guns includes 3,282 pistols, 621 shotguns, 539 rifles, 15 fully automatic weapons and four revolvers. It’s unclear who agents plan to shoot at. A recent IRS job posting says applicants must “be willing to use deadly force.”
Democrats voted in lockstep to take $80 billion from taxpayers to supersize the IRS. A possible 87,000 new agents are a force larger than the combined personnel on all 11 US aircraft carriers. Four times the number of Border Patrol agents. Enough to fill every seat in Madison Square Garden four times.
Why does the IRS have guns and play police officer? The agency got into the policing business in 1919 and over time became abusive, conducting armed raids on innocent small businesses exposed in 1997 and 1998 congressional hearings.
Democrats won’t tell you there are significant criminal-justice ramifications to giving the IRS this much money and power.
As inspector general reports detail, the IRS doesn’t respect your privacy or the concept of due process. Evidence-handling practices are abysmal. Handing the IRS a huge pile of cash won’t change the agency’s culture.
The IRS’s official government watchdog, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, has flagged severe problems with IRS gun management in numerous audits over the years.
“There is no national level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements,” TIGTA noted in a 2018 report. “Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or for damages.”
Another TIGTA report found that in a three-year period (fiscal years 2009 to 2011), IRS agents fired their guns accidentally on more occasions than they fired them intentionally.
Some accidental discharges went unreported. Three out of the four such unreported cases “may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.” The details of these specific incidents are redacted. And afterward, the agency didn’t even ensure that all involved agents received remedial training.
As the IRS deploys tens of thousands of new agents, expect fishing-expedition audits of small businesses. Corner stores, bodegas, barbershops and cash-intensive enterprises should be on alert because the agency has proven to be a bit slippery when approaching small-business owners.
A 2017 inspector general report, for example, detailed the ways in which IRS agents violated taxpayer rights and due process when investigating Americans for allegedly violating the $10,000 cash-reporting requirements. It seized assets before it even interviewed property owners.
The report noted that agents would chat up owners without telling them they were being formally investigated. And failed to read them their rights: “In only five of the 229 interviews conducted, noncustodial statements of rights, such as the right to remain silent, were provided.”
A sample of the cash investigations showed that actual tax-law violations were rare. TIGTA found: “Of the 252 legal source cases, tax law violations were identified by” criminal investigation in just 21 — a mere 8%.
IRS agents jumped to conclusions and failed to consider reasonable explanations and defenses.
An audit can easily take two to three years and weigh heavily on a small company. Time, money, stress. America’s small businesses have been battered by politicians over the past three years. A fishing-expedition audit could mean lights out for some. With more agents, you’ll see more law-abiding small-business owners give up and write a check to settle an IRS bill they don’t legally owe, just to get the agency off their back.
Every single Democratic congressman and senator voted to supersize the IRS — even the “moderates.” No Republican voted for the bill. And every single Senate Democrat voted against an amendment limiting increased audits to taxpayers earning more than $400,000.
The bill contains 14 times the amount of funding for “enforcement” — such as audits — as for “taxpayer services” — such as answering the phone. It even provides money for new cars for agents, though the inspector general found the fleet is already too large and the IRS can’t prove the cars are used strictly for official business.
In other words, it failed its own audit.
The law also shovels more taxpayer money toward new IRS “office rent” though 53% of IRS employees never set foot into an office because they “work from home.” How many of these are expected to pack heat and “be willing to use deadly force”?
Biden and the Democrats say they’re simply targeting the rich and corporations. But there are only 700 or so billionaires. The rest of the country is you and me.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform.