Congressional Democrats have handed Republicans two giant gifts. The deviously dubbed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and a worthy-but-failed amendment to it, supply the GOP a pair of tailor-made issues to hurl at tax-loving, tax-hiking, tax-collecting Democrats. Republican nominees should deploy them at once.
First, IRA gives the Internal Revenue Service an $80 billion bonus — six times its current $12.6 billion annual budget. This includes $45.6 billion for enforcement, a 70 percent increase above today’s compulsion outlays.
Imagine that baseball teams held IRS Nights. These new taxocrats would overwhelm these ballparks and adjacent sports bars:
— Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field (Capacity: 48,405)
— Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park (41,084)
— Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ball Park (43,500)
— Milwaukee Brewers’ American Family Field (41,900)
— Pittsburgh Pirates’ PNC Park (38,747)
Arizona’s Blake Masters, Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Ohio’s J.D. Vance, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Pennsylvania’s Dr. Mehmet Oz and other Republicans should use this thought experiment to illustrate how Democrats imperil taxpayers.
Every Senate Democrat endorsed these new agents. The Yeas included Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Georgia’s Raphael Warnock, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan – all seeking re-election. (Democrats also scuttled Texas Republican Ted Cruz’s amendment to defund these agents.)
Every House Democrat voted Yea on IRA, including Ohio’s Tim Ryan and Florida’s Val Demings — both Senate contenders. Every House Republican voted Nay.
These new agents will look beyond Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg. They will ensnare everyday taxpayers and entrepreneurs in stressful, costly, tedious audits.
“The fact is the ‘tax gap’ isn’t just millionaires, billionaires, oligarchs, or whatever the term-of-the-attack is today,” Senator Mike Crapo (R -Idaho), a taxpayers’ hero, told his colleagues. “Small business owners, cash-heavy businesses, and those who can’t afford legal teams are easy targets for the new IRS agents and their audits.”
The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, Crapo added: “looked at IRS data and determined out of all the revenue projected to be raised from underreported income: 40-57% could come from taxpayers making $50,000 or less; 65-78% from those making less than $100,000; and 78-90% from those making less than $200,000. Only around 4-9% could come from those making $500,000 or more.”
The IRS disproportionately scrutinizes Earned Income Tax Credit beneficiaries – hardly “the rich.”
“The agency audited 382,000 recipients of the EITC in 2018, accounting for 43% of all audits of individuals,” Pro Publica’s Paul Kiel wrote in May 2019. Nationwide, “the counties with the highest audit rates were poor, rural, mostly African American and in the South, a reflection of the high number of EITC claims there.”
Audits frazzle nerves, guzzle cash, and gobble time.
“Audits are almost never resolved in a day. From the moment you receive an audit notice to a final resolution (including appeals), you may need two years or longer,” warned Jackson Hewitt tax advisor Jim Buttonow, a 19-year IRS veteran. While mail audits might take a month, face-to-face audits can run three to 15 months.
“The average audit appeals resolution time is 11 months,” Buttonow explained. “If the dispute is only for accuracy penalties, the process can take up to three years.”
Senator Crapo tried to prevent this madness. Distrusting Democrats whose bill claimed that they do not “intend” to audit middle-class taxpayers, his amendment stipulated that “None of the funds appropriated…may be used to audit taxpayers with taxable incomes below $400,000” — Joe Biden’s promised floor for tax-hike exposure.
Every Republican voted with Crapo.
In their second gift to Republicans, every Senate Democrat killed Crapo’s amendment in a 50-50 tie. Had just one Democrat joined unified Republicans, typical taxpayers would be safe from Kafkaesque audits.
But no! Senate Democrats unanimously declared: Screw these Americans. Grab their money!
Republicans must make these two votes, and the Democrats behind them, world-famous. And they should not stop until the very last ballot is counted — sometime around Thanksgiving.
Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor Deroy Murdock is a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research. Aaron Cichon contributed research to this opinion piece.