The IRS is getting a lot more money for audits. Should you be worried?

GOP lawmakers and other anti-tax critics have claimed the new funding means the IRS will more than double its strength, adding 87,000 people.

Republicans have used inflammatory rhetoric to falsely claim that the IRS plans to arm its examiners with guns.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) likened the new hires to a “shadow army” that will “hunt” taxpayers. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) described a “strike force coming in with AK-15 rifles already loaded, ready to fire on a small business owner.”

The reality is that less than 3% of IRS employees carry firearms. But thanks to the GOP attacks, the agency announced it needed to step up security to protect its employees from an increase in threats against its offices.

The figure of 87,000 comes from a 2021 Treasury Department report that estimated how many full-time workers could pay that $80 billion over 10 years.

The truth is that the IRS will have a hard enough time maintaining its current staffing levels.

The agency’s workforce is older than the average for government employees; More than 50,000 employees are expected to retire in the next few years, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said. It won’t be easy to replace them, let alone add top-notch investigators to the workforce.

“If you look at the rich and corporations and you look at opaque and complex structures, the quality of agents will depend on how much can be found,” said Steven Rosenthal of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

“The IRS will have to recruit, train and retain very demanding help. And that’s difficult,” he said, “because the IRS can’t compete with private sector finance” for pay. The IRS is getting a lot more money for audits. Should you be worried?

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