IRS modernization costing $80 billion is raised by Biden’s nominee.

On Wednesday, lawmakers questioned President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the Internal Revenue Service about how he planned to supervise the use of the $80 billion in additional cash the organization will receive over the following 10 years.

The Senate Committee on Finance heard testimony from Daniel Werfel, a former acting IRS commissioner, on Wednesday morning. Afterwards, his nomination is anticipated to be approved by the full Senate, which is barely controlled by Democrats.

But first, Werfel had to answer tough questions about how he would utilize the new funding to revive the floundering tax authority and which taxpayers would see their audit rates rise.

Werfel pledged to uphold Janet Yellen’s earlier order that the IRS not use the additional cash to enhance audit rates for households earning less than $400,000 per year in comparison to historic levels.

Werfel stated at the hearing, “If I am lucky enough to be confirmed, the audit and compliance priority will be focused on improving the IRS’s capacity to ensure that America’s highest incomes comply with applicable tax laws.

“If poor individuals are more likely to be audited than the wealthy, I think it might possibly erode public trust and has to be addressed inside the tax system,” he continued.

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However, the committee’s leading Republican senator from Idaho, Mike Crapo, stated that Yellen’s direction “leaves a lot of wiggle area” and that he is still “extremely concerned” about how the money will be utilized to boost tax enforcement.

He said to Werfel, “I don’t expect to see wriggle room in this pledge.

Democrats’ bill grants the IRS $80 billion over ten years.
Democrats’ expansive Inflation Reduction Act, which was enacted last year across party lines, allocated $80 billion for the IRS over ten years with the goal of helping the organization crack down on tax cheats and improve services for taxpayers. By increasing tax collection, the agency is predicted to increase federal revenue by more than $100 billion during that time.

Republicans have attacked the IRS and its new money because they believe it would lead to more politically motivated audits of industrious Americans.

The IRS was the subject of two of the GOP’s first votes on legislation after gaining control of the House earlier this year. Under one bill, practically all of the agency’s increased money is to be revoked, while in the other, the IRS is to be completely abolished. Yet, given that Democrats currently hold the majority in the Senate, it is extremely improbable that either bill will be passed into law.

The extra funding for the IRS is not “designed to increase taxes on any individual or small business with a taxable income below $400,000,” according to the Inflation Reduction Act, however it is unclear exactly how the IRS will decide how to step up audits.

The inflated assertion that the $80 billion in additional funds will be used to recruit 87,000 auditors who would target hardworking Americans is still made by some prominent Republican leaders.

a 2019 Form 1040, Individual Income Tax, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury of the United States. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg was the photographer; image source: Getty
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But, the 87,000 figure is incorrect. Many of the new personnel will take the place of employees who have already left the IRS or whose attrition is anticipated in the upcoming years. The IRS could potentially hire 86,852 full-time staff over the course of a decade with a nearly $80 billion expenditure, according to a 2021 Treasury analysis, although that number would include all employees, not just enforcement personnel.

In reality, since the bill was passed, the IRS has hired 5,000 new customer support representatives. Additionally, according to Treasury officials, the increased funding is already having an impact.

Live IRS agents answered 89% of client calls during the first two weeks of the filing season this year, while 93% of calls were answered by automated means. These numbers stand in stark contrast to last year, when only 13% of calls could be answered by the IRS.

The IRS has handled 29% more returns so far this year than it did at the same time last year during tax filing season.

Werfel has experience and a special interest in government affairs.
In 2013, during a particularly challenging moment for the IRS, Werfel filled in as acting commissioner for seven months. His predecessor resigned after it came to light that the government gave conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status more attention.

Werfel worked at the White House Office of Management and Budget for nearly 16 years prior to his prior employment with the IRS, first as federal controller and subsequently as deputy controller. He joined Boston Consulting Group after leaving the government, where he is a managing director and partner on the federal and public sector teams.

Werfel also serves as the co-host of the podcast “Gov Actually,” which explores how the government functions. It strives to shed light on how the government functions behind the scenes to carry out legislation approved by Congress and political pledges.

“What never seems to receive much attention is does the government, its workforce, and its present tool set actually have the potential to make these campaign promises a reality,” Werfel remarked on the inaugural edition of the podcast, which was published in 2016.

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