Lankford, Colleagues Protect Taxpayer Rights and Privacy
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) continues to protect Oklahomans against Democrats’ campaign to monitor Americans’ bank accounts, place taxpayer finances in a surveillance dragnet, and provide massive, additional mandatory funding to IRS for an army of IRS agents. Lankford, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee, recently joined Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) and House Ways and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) to introduce the Tax Gap Reform and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Enforcement Act.
“Unfortunately, Biden and his team have ignored, or sometimes celebrated, the violation of taxpayer privacy and want to create an intrusive IRS,” said Lankford. “Our solution forces the IRS to protect taxpayers from regular IRS monitoring of their bank accounts, targeting based on their private beliefs, and the political weaponization of the IRS. Oversight and transparency are critical to a well-functioning government that works for the American people.”
“In light of recent proposals to massively expand the IRS, with unprecedented amounts of mandatory funding, and the IRS’s continued abuses of taxpayer rights and privacy, any additional IRS funding and monitoring of Americans’ private finances must come with guardrails to help protect against abuses,” said Crapo. “This legislation places important guardrails around IRS funding to protect taxpayers’ rights and privacy.”
“Before American taxpayers are subjected to 80,000 new IRS agents and surveillance of their private bank accounts, let’s begin with an accurate, independent estimate of Treasury’s so-called ‘tax gap,’” said Brady. “This bill also protects taxpayers from IRS targeting based on their political or religious beliefs and closes loopholes that risk leaking private taxpayer returns.”
Joining Lankford, Crapo, and Brady on the bill are Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), John Boozman (R-AR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Todd Young (R-IN).
Under the guise of closing the “tax gap,” Democrats are seeking to increase IRS funding by a massive $80 billion over the next 10 years to expand “enforcement and compliance activities” at the IRS, and to create a “comprehensive financial account information reporting regime,” under which gross inflows and outflows of taxpayers’ financial accounts are reported by financial intermediaries to the IRS, effectively acting as IRS agents.
Key provisions of the Tax Gap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act, include:
- Tax Gap Reform: Requires timely, annually updated information on tax-gap estimates in coordination with the Joint Committee on Taxation.
- Taxpayer Protection: Prevents the IRS from targeting Americans for their political and ideological beliefs, codifies President Biden’s pledge to not increase audits of taxpayers making less than $400,000 per year, and prohibits the establishment of new bank reporting requirements.
- Smarter Enforcement: Requires the IRS to use existing data and tools to improve its corporate audit selection process and increase enforcement against high-income non-filers.
- Closes the Expertise Gap: Creates an IRS enforcement fellowship pilot program to assist with the agency’s most complex audits and case selection decisions. Before hiring thousands of new agents, Congress should test the effectiveness of increasing expertise in a targeted way.
Supporting the bill are the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Center for a Free Economy.
“This legislation is a strong alternative to recent proposals that would write an $80 billion check to the IRS with too little forethought,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union. “If lawmakers move forward with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget boost anyway, these reforms and more should be considered prerequisites for any major proposed increase in the IRS budget, and would both safeguard taxpayers’ rights and support taxpayers’ interest in an effective, modern, and agile IRS.”
“Democrats want to give the IRS $80 billion and hire 87,000 new agents so they can harass and audit taxpayers and create a new reporting regime that targets any bank account, Venmo account, or financial account exceeding $600 in gross inflows and outflows,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This should be alarming given the IRS has a long history of failing to do its job and targeting taxpayers based on their political beliefs. The Tax Gap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act introduced by Congressman Brady and Senator Crapo takes steps towards protecting taxpayers by implementing important safeguards against potential new IRS targeting and abuse.”
“Congressional Democrats’ answer to Americans’ frustrations with the IRS is to hire more tax bureaucrats to audit them,” said Ryan Ellis, president of the Center for a Free Economy. “This bill provides a welcome reform-based alternative. People are fed up with being told they are tax cheats by academics and bureaucrats who have never signed the front of a paycheck, and that they must become the subject of fishing expedition audits in service to a fabricated ‘tax gap.’ Reining in the tax gap estimation and audit process gives taxpayers a fair shake if the tax man comes knocking. Congress should focus on getting the IRS to answer phone calls and correspondence in a timely manner, not on new audits.”