With the IRS planning a massive recruitment drive to more than double its number of agents, a Republican senator is calling on the Treasury Department to tighten its oversight of the agency. President Joe Biden plans a drastic increase in the number of taxpayer audits. Meanwhile, the Treasury’s own watchdog says the IRS itself is riddled with tax cheats.
On August 24, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) wrote to J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), calling on him to audit IRS recruitment processes. Biden has authorized the hiring of 87,000 new agents on top of the 80,000 the agency has already, paving the way for a huge expansion of auditing. What worries Ernst is that the IRS reportedly has a track record of hiring agents who are either incompetent or crooked.
Citing a 2017 report by TITGA, Ernst pointed out that the IRS had rehired hundreds of former staff who had been terminated for bad conduct or poor performance — including some fired for “willful failure to properly file their federal tax returns.” Another report, from 2019 found that 1,250 IRS employees owed overdue taxes, and the agency “had done little to discipline these tax cheats on its own payroll.” Excuses for non-payment included not knowing how to fill in a tax return or “forgetting” to report their full income.
Ernst doesn’t want hard-working Americans scrutinized by IRS agents who can’t even handle their own taxes. She certainly doesn’t want them audited by hypocritical tax cheats. Now, she’s demanding that George examine the agency to make sure it follows the same standards it expects from everyone else.