Because the IRS SWAT team memes your crazy aunt Kathy is spreading on Facebook are getting out of control, the AICPA has stepped forward to clarify: no, there will not be 87,000 armed IRS agents deployed to bang down the doors of American taxpayers.
Reaction to increased funding for IRS operations in the Inflation Reduction Act, P.L. 117-169, enacted Aug. 16, has featured “heated rhetoric,” but the act has also prompted real concerns regarding how the funding will be used and what that means for the tax profession and taxpayers, said AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, in a statement Thursday.
“In recent weeks, there have been several suggestions of a militarized IRS that could be misleading,” Melancon said. “While it is true that the IRS has a criminal investigation unit that looks into certain fraudulent tax violations such as money laundering, cybercrimes, and organized crime involving drugs and gangs, recent claims of 87,000 new armed IRS agents to aid in enforcement are not rooted in fact.”
“The heated rhetoric about a militarized IRS is irresponsible [and] potentially dangerous for IRS employees,” he said.
Now we don’t expect Aunt Kathy to know — nor care — who Barry Melancon is and she’ll probably think he’s a shill for the man if you point her to this article but hey, at least he tried. Tell her he’s too busy shilling the CGMA and insurance policies for AICPA members to take on a part-time gig shilling for the government, that might appease her.
The memes are sort of funny (if you’re in on the joke) but let’s all do our part and make sure all our Aunt Kathys know that the odds of an IRS SWAT team are essentially nil. For starters, there’s no way in hell the IRS will even be able to find 87,000 agents. The IRS can’t even provide paperclips to its hard-working employees.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said earlier this week the majority of new hires the IRS makes will be those who answer the phones, work on processing individual tax returns or go after high-end taxpayers or corporations who are avoiding their taxes. Less than 1% of new hires will be in the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) area, which currently has a total of about 2,100 special agents and is hiring about 300 more. Additionally, the gun thing is “absolutely false,” they don’t plan on strapping up all these new agents (because why would someone manning an IRS phone bank need a gun?); less than 3% of IRS employees carry weapons. Lastly, the plan for the Inflation Reduction Act funding — which will be spread over 10 years — will add employees over time to help the IRS modernize its ancient systems (and people). “[T]he IRS has one of the oldest workforces in government,” he wrote. “Staffing has been in a deep decline for many years. More than 50,000 employees will retire in the next few years, leaving the foundation of the tax system that the nation relies on at risk. We’ve been losing 10,000 employees a year.”
Will enforcement go up? Yeah, probably. But the IRS has a helluva backlog to get through first.
At the IRS in Austin, cafeteria is overrun with paper returns awaiting processing by campus’s dedicated employees who will *keystroke* line items into the IRS’s database
Investing in the IRS essential to overhaul this manual system, so agency can serve taxpayers way they deserve pic.twitter.com/jDZsz01uv4
— Natasha Sarin (@NatashaRSarin) June 11, 2022
AICPA disputes ‘misleading’ claims on new IRS funding, calls for service improvements [Journal of Accountancy]