WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans began their tenure in the majority Monday by passing a bill that would rescind nearly $71 billion that Congress had provided the IRS, fulfilling a campaign promise even though the legislation is unlikely to advance further. Democrats had beefed up the IRS over the next decade which included adding thousands […]
House GOP kicks off majority with vote to slash IRS funding
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans began their tenure in the majority Monday by passing a bill that would rescind nearly $71 billion that Congress had provided the IRS, fulfilling a campaign promise even though the legislation is unlikely to advance further.
Democrats had beefed up the IRS over the next decade which included adding thousands of new agents.
The money is on top of what Congress provides the IRS annually through the appropriations process and immediately became a magnet for GOP campaign ads in the fall saying that the boost would lead to an army of IRS agents harassing hard-working Americans.
The bill to rescind the money passed the House on a party-line vote of 221-210. The Democratic-controlled Senate has vowed to ignore it.
Shortly before the vote, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that rescinding the extra IRS funding would increase deficits over the coming decade by more than $114 billion.
Still, the CBO’s projection didn’t appear to dampen Republican support. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said the extra IRS funding Democrats provided last year was for one purpose.
“To go after small businesses, hard-working Americans to try to raise money for reckless spending, reckless spending that has caused $31 trillion in debt in this nation,” Duncan said.
Duncan and other GOP lawmakers routinely say the extra funding will be used to hire 87,000 new agents to target Americans.
Charles Rettig, the former commissioner of the IRS, said in a final message to the agency in November that the additional money would help in many areas, not just beefing up tax enforcement. He said the investments would make it “even less likely for honest taxpayers to hear from the IRS or receive an audit letter.”
Additional funding for the agency has been politically controversial since 2013, when the IRS under the Obama administration was found to have used inappropriate criteria to review tea party groups and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status.
In the ensuing years, the IRS was mostly on the losing end of congressional funding fights, even as a subsequent 2017 report found that both conservative and liberal groups were chosen for scrutiny.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., and other Republicans weren’t buying the argument that the funding would be focused on auditing the wealthy.
“This is meant to nickel-and-dime, audit and harass America’s small businesses and families, who they know cannot afford the legal fees to fight this army,” Malliotakis said.