Newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says that the first bill he wants to see passed is one to cut back funding for 87,000 new IRS agents, following a several-day-long fight over the speaker’s gavel.
“I know the night is late, but when we come back, our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents,” McCarthy said on Jan. 7, moments after being nominated as speaker. McCarthy didn’t say exactly when the Republican-backed bill would be introduced on the House floor but said Republicans “believe government should be to help you, not go after you.”
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) in a recent letter said there’s legislation that’s “ready to go” that Republicans will bring to the House floor during the first two weeks of 2023. The Treasury Department estimated that in 2021, a nearly $80 billion investment in the IRS would allow the agency to hire about 86,852 full-time IRS employees—not agents—over the course of a decade.
But the Republican National Committee and a number of Republican lawmakers have criticized recent funding for the IRS under the Inflation Reduction Act that passed both chambers of Congress in 2022. They’ve argued that the IRS would target Americans with more and more audits to fund large spending packages that have recently passed Congress.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in 2022 that new funding will allow the agency to modernize and move away from antiquated computer systems, over-reliance on paper filings, and relying too much on paper mail. Meanwhile, the funding will allow the IRS to focus on the better enforcement of tax laws against corporations and wealthy Americans.
“The Inflation Reduction Act finally provides the funding to transform the IRS into a 21st-century agency,” Yellen said in September 2022. “While all the improvements won’t be done overnight, taxpayers can expect to feel real differences during the next filing season.”
While Republicans have a majority in the House, they don’t have a majority in the 51–49 Senate. Passing the measure to repeal the recent IRS funding could face roadblocks in the upper chamber, while President Joe Biden could move to veto the GOP’s measure.