The budget proposal submitted by the White House on Thursday would add roughly $43 billion in funding to the Internal Revenue Service, also known as the IRS, months after the tax enforcement agency received $80 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act.
Beyond the $14.1 billion allocated to the IRS, which marks a 15% increase from the previous year, the budget would provide another $29.1 billion in “mandatory funding for enforcement and operations,” according to a press release from the House Ways and Means Committee. The proposed allocation comes after the IRS received an $80 billion windfall through the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Joe Biden in August.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on Friday that the funds from the Inflation Reduction Act have resulted in taxpayers receiving “drastically improved customer service” because staffers were equipped to answer “hundreds of thousands more phone calls during this filing season than at this time last year.” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) meanwhile pressed the official over the increased tax enforcement allocation.
“I have to ask: Is this a joke? After a two-year inflation crisis that has cost American workers more than two months of pay, families need every penny they can get,” he said in opening remarks provided to The Daily Wire.
Yellen has previously vowed that the funds from the Inflation Reduction Act would not be used to increase audit rates for households earning less than $400,000 per year “relative to historical levels.” She has failed to clarify that “historical levels” of enforcement were far higher as recently as one decade ago: audit rates for households earning between $25,000 and $200,000 declined 76% between 2010 and 2019, according to data from the Government Accountability Office.
Officials have also claimed that the funds will enable IRS staff to more easily assist individuals and businesses attempting to properly file their taxes. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration nevertheless said in a report that the budget for enforcement activities will increase 69% over the next decade while the budget for taxpayer services will increase 9%.
Biden administration officials contend that the more stringent tax enforcement enabled by the additional IRS funds would improve the nation’s fiscal health. The $43 billion allocated to the IRS would decrease the deficit by $134 billion over the next decade.
The overall budget proposal, which suggests an increase in government spending from $5.8 trillion to $6.9 trillion, is also marked by a number of tax hikes on wealthy individuals and businesses. Households with more than $100 million in wealth would be subjected to a 25% minimum tax, while the top marginal tax rate would also be increased to 39.6% from the current 37% rate. Businesses would see an increase in the corporate tax to 28%, which would split the difference between the current 21% rate and the previous 35% rate that was in effect before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
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The additional $43 billion for the IRS is unlikely to pass the House of Representatives, which recently voted to repeal the $80 billion offered to the IRS by the Inflation Reduction Act. Senior Republican officials have likewise announced that they would oppose the budget proposal.
“President Biden just delivered his budget to Congress, and it is completely unserious. He proposes trillions in new taxes that you and your family will pay directly or through higher costs,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) remarked. “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.”