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Rep. Moore blasts Inflation Reduction Act, takes aim at IRS funding provision

By Tim Vandenack - | Aug 11, 2022

George Frey, Associated Press

Utah Rep. Blake Moore talks to supporters during a Utah Republican election night party on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in South Jordan.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Blake Moore is taking sharp aim at the Inflation Reduction Act, focusing particularly on the proposed funding boost for the Internal Revenue Service, which has a large presence in the 1st District.

In a statement Thursday, he acknowledged that the IRS “does need support.” The agency employs around 5,000 people in and around Ogden, making it one of the largest area employers.

However, he suggested the $80 billion boost in IRS funding in the $437 billion measure — which he opposes — would be used to bolster audits of low- and moderate-income people, echoing charges of many GOP lawmakers. The administration of President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers are pushing the proposal, still to be voted on by House lawmakers, and it narrowly passed the Senate 51-50 on Aug. 7, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote.

“Democrats are attempting to find ways to further audit Americans in nearly every tax bracket by sending $80 (billion) to the IRS to hire 87,000 new agents to conduct audits. Low- and middle-income earners will be hit with an estimated 700,000 new audits, which will hurt small businesses and low-income Americans,” said Moore, a Salt Lake City Republican.

He went on in the statement, expressing concern the new IRS funding — spread over 10 years — could also prompt the agency to act based on political considerations. “Furthermore, we have seen the IRS directed to target certain populations, often conservative groups, and I’m concerned we would see similar biased and political activity with this new funding,” Moore said.

He opposes the Inflation Reduction Act — which has mustered near-universal opposition from GOPers — for “several reasons,” Moore said. His statement Thursday, however, zeroed in on the IRS funding provision, and his office didn’t immediately respond to a query seeking elaboration on his opposition.

Inflation Reduction Act proponents say the IRS funding is meant to boost efforts to counter tax evasion, generating funding to help pay for other provisions of the measure, meant to protect the environment, fight inflation and more. And Moore’s contentions notwithstanding, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig indicated in an Aug. 4 letter to the U.S. Senate that IRS funding in the measure would not be used to target lower-income taxpayers.

“These resources are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans,” Rettig said.

Rather, he claimed, the focus would be on corporate and higher-income taxpayers. “Large corporate and high-net-worth taxpayers often engage teams of sophisticated representatives who pursue unsettled or sometimes questionable interpretations of tax law. The integrity and fairness of our tax administrative system relies upon the ability of our agency to maintain a strong, visible, robust enforcement presence directed to these and other similarly situated taxpayers when they are noncompliant,” Rettig said.

Though critical of the IRS funding in the Inflation Reduction Act, Moore recognizes the federal agency needs a boost. “What I have learned through working with them is that the IRS does need support. They need better technologies and better customer service capabilities. What they are not in need of, however, is what the Democrats are pushing for in their massive federal spending package,” Moore said.

The National Treasury Employees Union, the labor group that represents around 70,000 IRS workers across the country, including Ogden, backs the Inflation Reduction Act, singling out the funding boost for the agency.

The $80 billion investment “will rebuild the agency with the tools and tax professionals it needs to reduce the deficit by collecting revenue that is rightfully owed, ensuring full compliance with tax laws and providing world-class customer service to American taxpayers,” the union said in a statement.

The statement noted the IRS has seen a dip of nearly 20% in funding, adjusted for inflation, since 2010. “The result is 15,000 fewer employees, plummeting enforcement and customer service rates and a crisis of morale among IRS employees who don’t have the resources to adequately deliver on their mission,” said the NTEU.

The number of new IRS workers that would be brought on if the Inflation Reduction Act passes has been a point of debate. Moore and other GOPers have pegged the number at 87,000.

The Washington Post, digging into the question, said the IRS, which currently has 82,000 workers, should grow by 25% to 30%. Some 50,000 IRS workers are eligible to retire in the coming five years and funding for new workers would be focused on “mitigating that attrition and adding customer service and information technology specialists in addition to enforcement agents,” said the newspaper.

The NTEU echoed that. “The (Biden) administration has estimated the IRS needs to hire about 86,000 new employees over time, at least 50,000 of whom would replace those who are expected to retire or leave the agency in the next six years,” it said.

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