October 5, 2022

(Seattle, WA) – MAGA Republican Tiffany Smiley continues to receive national attention for misleading Washington voters — most recently by CBS News. Smiley was recently featured in an article titled, “Weeks before midterm elections, Republicans warn of an army of 87,000 IRS agents that will harass Americans” because in a new ad she repeats the MAGA Republican talking point – and flat out lie – that 87,000 new IRS agents are coming after American families. 

CBS Answers: Are the claims true?

“No, the claims are outdated and misleading. While the IRS will be getting $80 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act passed in August, the IRS has not yet released a plan for the money…Of the $80 billion in funding – nearly $46 billion was allocated to go toward enhanced enforcement as the IRS looks to close the so-called “tax gap,” which currently stands at an estimated $600 billion annually and $7.5 trillion over the next ten years. Apart from enforcement, the money is also being used for improving taxpayers services and technology.”

Others agree – this MAGA talking point is unequivocally false: 

  • The Washington Post: Hyperbolic GOP claims about IRS agents and audits: “Natasha Sarin, Treasury counselor for tax policy and implementation, told The Fact Checker that over half of the IRS staff — 50,000 — is eligible for retirement in the next five years. Much of the funding for new employees will be focused on mitigating that attrition and adding customer service and information technology specialists in addition to enforcement agents. The agency has also lost about 40 percent of the agency staff who specialize in complex tax audits, bringing it to the level of the agency in World War II, she said.”
  • Reuters: Fact Check – The IRS is not hiring thousands of armed agents, job ads show opening for specialized unit: “The Internal Revenue Service will not be hiring 87,000 armed agents. Job adverts posted on social media are for special agents in the IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit. There are currently about 2,100 special agents in this unit, and there were 81,600 total IRS employees in fiscal year 2021.”
  • TIME: Trump Allies Are Attacking Biden For a Plan to Hire 87,000 New IRS Agents That Doesn’t Exist: “In all, the IRS might net roughly 20,000 to 30,000 more employees from the new funding, enough to restore the tax-collecting agency’s staff to where it was roughly a decade ago…Funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will also go toward tech modernization.”
  • The LA Times: Column: No, Tucker Carlson, armed IRS agents won’t come for Americans’ money: “Among Republicans’ untruths in this year’s midterm campaigns, the IRS lie is second only to the “Big Lie” — that Donald Trump was robbed of reelection — in its egregiousness and in its evidence of their willingness to tear down the government…Facts: Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, whose department includes the IRS, and IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, a Trump appointee, have put it in writing: The additional money would “absolutely not” be used to increase audits of individuals and small businesses making less than $400,000 a year. More facts: The Inflation Reduction Act’s $80 billion for the IRS will be used to replace outdated computer systems, to cover routine costs and, yes, to hire 87,000 new employees over 10 years.”
  • The New York Times: How more funding for the IRS became a political firestorm: “In part, Republicans recognize that the law’s biggest elements, money for climate and health care, are popular. So they’re seeking other ways to criticize the legislation, including through conspiracy theories about the agency, as The Times has reported. The opposition is also part of an older ideological debate. Republican lawmakers tend to favor lower taxes, particularly for wealthy Americans. They have achieved that by cutting tax rates. But they have also done it by blocking more funding for the I.R.S. — in an effort to stop the agency from aggressively collecting taxes.”
  • CNBC: Don’t worry, the IRS isn’t hiring an ‘army’ of auditors – here’s what’s really happening: “The legislation will indeed result in increased audit activity, but claims of a new army of IRS agents and rampant audits on everyday Americans are misleading, tax experts say.”