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Lankford, Finance Committee Republicans Push to Protect Taxpayers, Hold IRS More Accountable

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and their colleagues to introduce the IRS Funding Accountability Act, which responds to the Democrats’ so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” that will infuse the IRS with $80 billion of new funding without any oversight measures to prevent waste, protect taxpayer rights, or measure improvements of service. The bill would give Congress a direct say in how this new funding could be spent, hold the IRS more accountable, and provide more transparency for the American people.

“Oklahomans tell me often how horrible it is dealing with the IRS, if they can even get them to answer the phone,” said Lankford. “After Democrats handed the IRS $80 billion—with very little oversight—it has the potential to make a bad situation even worse for taxpayers trying to get answers before they get caught in the huge increase of audits. Our bill makes sure we can track where the IRS is spending the billions of dollars and know who they target for the increased audits.”

“The Democrats’ attempt to supersize the IRS without holding the agency accountable to Congress and American taxpayers is dangerous and irresponsible,” said Thune. “This legislation would provide much-needed oversight of the unprecedented $80 billion in new funding to the agency, more than half of which Democrats have directed toward enforcement-related measures, including audits. If our bill becomes law, the Biden Administration’s IRS would have to answer to the American people, not Washington bureaucrats.” 

“Government, especially when it comes to the treatment of taxpayers, needs to be accountable and transparent to the American people,” said Grassley. “When Democrats’ partisan spending bill gave the IRS an extra 80 billion dollars, their legislation included no oversight mechanisms whatsoever. Our bill will ensure that the IRS is answerable to the American people in how it uses this money, and will force it to forfeit funds every day it’s not in compliance.”

“The $80 billion in IRS funding included the so-called Inflation Reduction Act came with almost no guardrails for an agency that has fallen chronically short on core elements of their mission in recent years,” said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union. “National Taxpayers Union (NTU) is proud to support the IRS Funding Accountability Act, which would require the IRS to provide Congress with a genuine and realistic plan for spending the most significant influx of funds the agency has ever received. The bill would also require the IRS to regularly update Congress on their spending, ensuring ongoing accountability of the agency over the next 10 years. On behalf of the nation’s taxpayers, NTU gratefully applauds Senators Thune and Grassley for their leadership on IRS oversight.”

“Joe Biden promised taxpayers that no one earning less than $400,000 would see a penny more in taxes. Biden lied his way into office,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Democrats raised taxes on American families and unleashed 87,000 new IRS agents to shakedown small business owners and ramp up audits on taxpayers. Congressional oversight of Biden’s IRS is essential. This legislation will help rein in Biden’s IRS and address the agency’s broken culture of unaccountability.”

“The Inflation Reduction Act directed 80 billion taxpayer dollars to the IRS, with the majority earmarked to increase the agency’s enforcement activities,” said Brent Gardner, chief government affairs officer for Americans For Prosperity. “With little to no information about how the agency plans to use those taxpayer dollars or hold itself accountable, the IRS Funding Accountability Act would implement commonsense measures to increase oversight and transparency on behalf of the American taxpayer. Americans for Prosperity thanks Senators Thune and Grassley for introducing this legislation.”

The bill requires the IRS to provide Congress with an annual plan for how the agency intends to use the new IRA funds, which would be subject to a new joint resolution of disapproval. The bill would also require quarterly updates from the IRS and Department of the Treasury to enable consistent and transparent evaluation of the plans, provide accountability for any misuse of funds, and guard against violations of taxpayer rights. Failure to submit timely and thorough plans or reports would result in financial penalties, including IRA funds being rescinded on a daily basis until the IRS complies with the reporting requirements.

After strongly opposing the Democrats’ so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” Lankford joined Senate Finance Committee Republicans to send a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General Gene Dodaro requesting an update on outstanding issues that GAO has previously advised the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to remedy. Additionally, Lankford and Finance Republicans sent a letter to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Russell George requesting information on how TIGTA will provide American taxpayers with needed visibility into what the IRS will do with its massive new multi-year funding stream, particularly as just a sliver of this funding is set aside for oversight and taxpayer services, as opposed to tens of billions earmarked for enforcement.

Joining Lankford, Thune, and Grassley to introduce the bill were Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Cornyn (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Todd Young (R-IN).