- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2022

As the IRS prepares for a massive expansion that will empower it to probe into more Americans’ finances, a Republican senator is asking the agency’s inspector general to perform an audit to see how many of its own employees are tax cheats.

Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, said previous reviews have found hundreds of IRS employees in arrears, and she said it’s time to do a new check to see how many bad apples remain.

“Innocent, hard-working Americans should not be subjected to unfair and costly IRS audits when the agency is ignoring tax cheats on its own payroll,” the senator said in a letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

The IRS is under intense scrutiny after Democrats passed legislation earlier this month that included about $80 billion in new money for the agency over the next decade. IRS officials in the past have said that could be used to hire 87,000 new employees, essentially doubling its size, and to upgrade the agency’s information and computer systems.

Democrats insist they intended only for high-income taxpayers to feel the heat, but Republicans say there’s no way the extra manpower doesn’t result in more audits and higher compliance costs for lower-income filers as well.

Ms. Ernst said she wants to make sure those who are doing the scrutiny are themselves above reproach.

It’s a real issue.

A 2019 report by Mr. George and TIGTA said the IRS itself had identified 1,250 IRS employees who had failed to pay their full taxes in 2017.  That’s nearly 2% of the agency’s workforce.

Making matters worse, TIGTA in 2017 reported that the IRS had a habit of rehiring employees with past tax problems.

“We have a real problem if the IRS staff who enforce the tax law aren’t paying their own taxes and can’t even understand how to properly fill out the agency’s tax forms!” Ms. Ernst said in a statement announcing her request.

She slapped the IRS with her monthly Squeal Award. The name stems from her 2014 Senate campaign, where she ran an ad highlighting her time as a girl on her Iowa farm castrating pigs and vowed to bring her pork-cutting skills to Washington’s “big spenders.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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