The Republican Party is responsible for gutting the U.S. (IRS) and shaping it into a government entity that works in favor of the wealthy, according to a new op-ed.
Mother Jones senior editor Michael Mechanic highlighted the history of Republican lawmakers’ subtle and persistent attacks on the IRS over the last three decades. He noted that the most blatant attacks began in 1994 when Republican lawmakers began “chipping away at its resources and enforcement abilities even as mainstream Republican lawmakers and candidates called for the agency’s abolition.”
Since Republicans’ war against the IRS has been decades in the making, the federal agency has been stripped of many of its resources needed to conduct thorough investigations of the ultrarich. Now, Biden administration officials are moving to restore the agency with a massive $80 billion investment over the next 10 years. While the investment will be costly, it could ultimately yield more than $700 billion for the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The IRS overhaul comes several years after the number of high-end audits increased under former President Barack Obama’s administration. Around that time, Republican lawmakers were angered by the passing of the Affordable Care Act and the taxation it imposed on the ultra-rich. In fact, opposing lawmakers fired back with scathing reactions to the bill.
During a 2015 hearing, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) sounded off on John Koskinen who served as IRS commissioner under the Obama administration. When Republican lawmakers worked to cut the IRS budget even more, Koskinen hit back in defense of his employees who would be required to “do less with less,” as he described the strict budget cuts as “a tax cut for tax cheats.”
Kelly insisted that his complaints would only make the situation far worse in the long run. Unfortunately, his words were ultimately true. From 2010 to 2018, the IRS faced nearly $3 billion in additional cuts even as it received a 9% increase in tax returns.
Subsequently, the publication notes: “Investigations of non-filers plummeted and the amount of outstanding tax debt the IRS formally wrote off (based on the 10-year statute of limitations for collections) more than doubled—from less than $15 billion in 2010 to more than $34 billion in 2019.”
The deep financial cuts have also led to a domino effect of other issues. According to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration’s 2020 report, “nearly 880,000 ‘high income’ non-filers from 2014 through 2016 still owed $46 billion, and the IRS was in no condition, resource-wise, to collect. The 300 biggest delinquents owed about $33 million per head, on average.”