What an $80B funding boost to the IRS could mean for taxpayers

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the Internal Revenue Service will spend an extra $79.6 billion over the next 10 years to help the agency dig out of a backlog of unprocessed paper returns, and staff up to take aim at the country’s highest earners.

The act, which is expected to pass the House before going to President Biden’s desk for signature, will add 87,000 new IRS agents to the agency’s roster. It’s expected to help speed up processing refunds that some taxpayers have been waiting as long as 10 months to receive.

Democratic sponsors of the legislation said it’s also aimed at wealthy individuals cheating their taxes, with $46 billion of the $80 billion earmarked for audits.

Ben Wilkerson, a managing attorney at North Mississippi Legal Services, said these audits are sometimes tilted against lower-income earners.

“There’s no rhyme or reason that I can figure out to who gets audited,” he said.

Wilkerson has helped hundreds of low-income families impacted by IRS audits. He said going after these individuals is less work and gets done quicker — while wealthier filers have the resources to fight the agency.

A recent study from Syracuse University found the poorest families were audited at a rate five times higher than everyone else.

That figure is compared to just the 2% of millionaires who were audited in 2021.

Syracuse professor Susan Long said the Inflation Reduction Act may give the agency the manpower it needs to change that practice.

“It is really revolutionary,” she said. “Because year after year, IRS has been starved for resources but has been given more and more duties as we have seen and carry out things. You know, it takes steps; that’s the way the world goes round.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in a letter to the Senate last week that resources from the Inflation Reduction Act “are absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans.” Instead, it will bring the IRS “back to historical norms in areas of challenge for the agency,”

Funds received will also go toward “employees and IT systems that will allow us to better serve all taxpayers,” Rettig wrote.

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