Voters Should Never Forgive Democrats for Their Dangerous Dxpansion of the IRS
by Quin Hillyer
Congress has passed the Manchin-Schumer government-power-grab bill, but that shouldn’t mean we move on to the next thing. The public fury and political payback should continue, particularly against its provisions turning the IRS into an authoritarian leviathan.
The bill authorized the hiring of nearly 87,000 new IRS agents, with 14 times the amount of resources devoted to “enforcement” crackdowns as to currently lacking and desperately needed customer service. This literally should frighten us.
First, to be clear: This isn’t just about catching cheaters. Innocent, middle-class taxpayers get audited frequently — and the time, effort, and sometimes professional legal or accounting help needed to prove the original tax returns were correct can cost even more than the amount in dispute. The IRS doesn’t repay the taxpayer for the unjust harassment it metes out or the mistakes it makes. Even when the IRS is wrong, the system is rigged against taxpayers, with the IRS acting without transparency or accountability as (in effect) investigator, prosecutor, and judge.
At the same time Congress is unleashing tens of thousands of new enforcement officers backed by tens of billions of new dollars (over 10 years) to crack down on taxpayers, conservatives have been yelling alarms about a new IRS job listing for armed agents. The listing says that among the job’s “major duties” are to “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”
The left-wing media immediately rushed to downplay the concerns about armed agents, with outlets too numerous to list all noting that the IRS long has had armed agents and insisting (to quote PolitiFact) that “the routine audits the IRS performs on average Americans do not involve those armed agents who deal with criminal investigations.”
Yeah — except that sometimes they do. In 2010, when I wrote against the proliferation of armed personnel at federal agencies not generally associated with policing violent behavior, I began with the story of a woman so traumatized by a heavily armed IRS raid that she committed suicide. In a situation in which the government gave no warnings that anything was wrong with the family’s tax returns, “10 visibly armed IRS agents in bulletproof vests had stormed her home on Nov. 6, 2007, in search of evidence of tax evasion.”
Granted, one true anecdote does not necessarily indicate a trend. Still, the Aug. 12 Daily Signal explained why ordinary citizens are right to be afraid. In 2018, the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration reported that 79 of 459 special agents in the IRS’s long-gun cadre “failed to meet standard qualification requirements. Further, the report says the IRS could not provide information about whether 1,500 special agents were trained in tactical equipment proficiency.”
And in 2012, a separate IG report said IRS firearms training was so lax that agents fired their guns more often by accident than on purpose. Worse, the agency improperly reported four accidental discharges that “may have resulted in property damage or personal injury” but redacted the report to hide whether such damage had occurred. And the Daily Signal described three specific, frightening incidents in which armed IRS raids on business owners upended their companies but “came up empty-handed” because no violations were found.
Now that the Manchin-Schumer bill will roughly double the total number of IRS agents, with an overwhelming emphasis on enforcement and without significant aids to safeguard taxpayer rights, the abusive incidents in general surely will rise, as will the use of armed agents.
Every single House and Senate member who voted for this monstrosity, which means every Democrat in Congress, should have this vote wrapped around his political neck until his political career is suffocated. The new law is worse than unconscionable — it’s outright dangerous.